Co-directed by Amanda Feilding and Prof Celia Morgan at Exeter University

This exciting new Research Programme will investigate the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and its individual components. The research will take place at the Beckley/Exeter Cannabis Centre at the University of Exeter, which will include a lab to analyse the contents of different cannabis strains using the latest cutting edge technology. We will focus on both the primary cannabinoids  – THC and CBD –  and other cannabinoids, terpenes and compounds, and investigate the synergy between them.

We are starting with a study investigating the potential of CBD for smoking cessation. Preliminary results in 18 people demonstrate that CBD significantly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by ~40% during treatment (Morgan et al., 2013). We now plan to recruit 60 people, and add a brain imaging component before and after the CBD course. Tasks would include cue reactivity, attentional bias and prediction error.

We are also re-launching a large-scale survey of thousands of people on their pattern of medical cannabis use and the efficiency of different strains. We will track weekly medical cannabis use trends and look at which strains of cannabis people are using for specific conditions, how people choose their strains, what the doses and effects are, and how medical cannabis compares to existing medications.

History of Collaboration

This collaboration grew out of our research at UCL, when our collaborator, Professor Celia Morgan, took a Senior Lecturer position at Exeter in May 2013. Our collaboration undertakes a variety of studies focused on the potential therapeutic effects of different cannabis strains, using surveys, experimental studies, and most recently a clinical trial. The surveys evaluated the efficacy of different cannabis strains in the treatment of patients at Harborside Health Center (US) to establish effectiveness in comparison with conventional medicines. We also developed a survey to assess what people think are the harms and benefits of recreational drugs. Our experimental research focused on the potential connection between cannabis and creativity, while the newest clinical trial investigates the therapeutic efficacy of CBD for smoking cessation.

Research Team and Institution

Exeter University was named the Sunday Times University of the Year in 2013 and was the Times Higher Education University of the Year in 2007. Exeter has maintained a top ten position in the National Student Survey since the survey was launched in 2005. In 2011, it was considered as being one of the top 12 elite universities in England, and it is one of only 8 universities to be ranked within the top 10 of all three major national league tables for 2016.

Prof Celia Morgan completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at UCL, and completed a scholarship programme at Yale University before returning to UCL as a post-doctoral fellow. She then went on to work as a visiting research fellow at the University of Melbourne, and returned to UCL for a fellowship and then Lectureship. She joined the University of Exeter in May 2013 as a professor of psychopharmacology, and holds an Honorary Readership at UCL.