Can Marijuana Help People Living With HIV?

Scientists are looking into how pot affects symptoms associated with the virus.

A new study underway at the University of Florida is hoping to determine the health effects of marijuana in HIV patients.

With a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers are hoping to find out how much marijuana actually helps symptoms related to the virus.

Florida’s Senate Bill 8A currently includes HIV as one of the 13 qualifying medical conditions required to legally acquire medical marijuana in the state, but the Florida Board of Medicine says there’s “limited evidence” that cannabis is effective in treating symptoms like decreased appetite and increased weight loss.

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The university’s five-year study will follow 400 HIV-positive Floridians who currently use marijuana either recreationally or medicinally and conduct neurocognitive tests to help evaluate the effects of the herb on the brain.

“Marijuana contains a range of cannabinoid components, each of which could affect HIV health outcomes positively or negatively,” the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Robert Cook, told First Coast News.

“We expect the study to contribute to clinical and public health guidelines, while also addressing knowledge gaps about how much marijuana is ’too much’ and how the effects of marijuana may be different in older individuals,” Cook added.

The researchers say the study will be the biggest and most comprehensive look into the health effects of HIV-positive marijuana users ever.

Adam Salandra is a writer, performer and host in Los Angeles. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog puppy or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.