The Final Four According to Cannabis Research

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament was announced March 17th with a wave of free brackets, guides, Apps, and various experts that give the impression of mystical haruspices with their predictions.

This year we need a new way to determine final four picks. This is your chance to change the way you root for teams, here is a quick guide to base your picks on the quality of the universities contributions to the Cannabis and cannabinoid research field.

Here are final four picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament based on cannabinoid research:

Southern Division:

This year my pick for the southern division is the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). VCU has generated a lot in terms of cannabis and cannabinoid research. There are a lot of great researchers at VCU,  rewarded with substantial grant funding for many different project. The late and great Billy Martin was a VCU professor who is accredited with “changing the landscape of drug abuse research in this country.”

Here a few projects that are being funded:

The Discovery and Characterization of New Endocannabinoids. Many people are starting to learn about anandamide and 2-AG the THC-like compounds made by our body, but there could dozens if not 100s of these endocannabinoids that our body can make for a variety of purposes.

Cannabis-like compounds to treat HIV/AIDS associated Brain Inflammation. Cannabinoid receptor activation may be able to prevent brain damage associated HIV/AIDS disease progression

Increasing Cannabinoid Receptor Activity to Fight Alzheimer’s Diseases. This study uses an approach to increase anandamide levels by inhibiting the protein FAAH. Increasing endocannabinoid system activity has beneficial effects on cognitive decline in animal models of the disease.

In 2012, VCU researchers published their cannabinoid research in prestigious science such as the British Journal of Pharmacology and Journal of Molecular Pharmacology.

Eastern Division

Temple University continually produces high quality cannabinoid and drug abuse research. Temple researchers have published a study showing that cannabinoids can decrease HIV replication and a research team has received a grant to study the protective effects of CB2 receptor activation in the brain. Temple University is also home to some of the leading Ph.D experts in cannabinoid research, such as Jahan Marcu (Cannabis Researcher of the year 2012).

Western Division

For decades Ole Miss has been growing Cannabis for researchers and patients. Thanks to the tireless work of Mahmoud Elsohly a few lucky researchers have received NIDA “marijuana cigarettes.”

These studies demonstrated that smoked Cannabis is effective for treating chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, as well as providing effective relief from neuropathic pain.

The surviving patients under the IND program receive about 300 “marijuana cigarettes” a month, 10 joints a day is the approximate recommendation to treat symptoms of their incurable diseases (On a personal note, Dr. Elsohly is also one of the nicest and most open researchers I have ever met).

Midwest Division

Michigan State University has many active cannabinoid researchers who have published on a range of topics:

Role of CB1 receptors in the immune system

How THC may help with the Flu

John McPartland, a cannabis and endocannabinoid expert also publishes some of his work via Michigan State University. Researchers at Michigan State have also received a grant to study the potential of cannabinoids to stimulate new brain cell formation.


The final four of NCAA division I tournament of cannabinoid research would consist of Temple, VCU, Ole Miss, and Michigan State University. It’s a tough call, but Temple has the potential to take cannabinoid and drug abuse research to another level (However, I received my Ph.D from Temple and that may be a conflict of interest for this final four pick).

Temple University aside, Ole Miss would go all the way if the tournament was based simply on Cannabis research.

Ole Miss is the only place where you can find marijuana growing that is completely “legal”, as in the Feds and the DEA recognize its legitimacy; it is also the ONLY source of Cannabis for research purposes.

The ball is literally in Ole Miss’ court. However, VCU remains a cut above the rest, a deep team with a rich history of accomplishment and notoriety in the cannabinoid research field.

Jahan Marcu, Ph.D, is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. He was working at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute when exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) and in 2013 was named Cannabis Researcher of the Year. Jahan is currently the vice-chair the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board at Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Questions?   Contact   [email protected]

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent any University, business or affiliates. While the information provided in this blog is from published scientific studies it is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

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