Interview with Leah Sera

Today we want to share with you an interview we did with Leah Sera from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

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Could you introduce yourself and share more about what you’re doing and what your focus is?

My name is Dr. Leah Sera and I’m the Program Director for the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s new Master’s program in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics. My focus is on teaching, development, and program administration.

You’re the director of MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics. How was this born and what was the motivation to take on this role?

The Dean of the School of Pharmacy conceived the idea for this program in response to a rapidly growing medical cannabis industry and the need for an educated workforce to fill professional roles in this field. Additionally, several studies have been published in the last few years describing an educational gap related to medical cannabis.

Why did you decide to focus on medical cannabis and clinical specialties pain management and palliative care?

My clinical training is in palliative care, and over the last 10 years I have had questions and growing interest from patients in utilizing medical cannabis for symptoms, mostly for pain and nausea. My interest grew from there.

Can you share the newest research/developments in relation to pain and medical cannabis?

The systematic review published in 2017 by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that there is substantial evidence that cannabis is effective in treating chronic pain in adults, and that areas of future research should evaluate different formulations, routes of administration, and the relative therapeutic contributions of different cannabinoids.

What do you think about CBD? Do you believe in its purported health benefits?

The enthusiasm and optimism related to the health benefits of CBD far exceeds the evidence available to support many of these claims. There is promising preclinical evidence in several areas, but more clinical studies are needed to determine the actual therapeutic benefit of CBD.

For which conditions can CBD be most beneficial?

There is evidence that CBD may be effective for treating some types of seizure conditions. The FDA approved Epidiolex in 2018 for treatment of seizure associated with two types of severe seizure disorders.

Where do you see the biggest research gaps medical) cannabis/ CBD?

There are many – in addition to what I mentioned above, research on the long term safety and benefits of medical cannabis use, as well as public health issues, and continued scientific and translational research to help guide the clinical use of cannabinoids.

Is there still a lot of research to be done or do we know all the benefits of CBD and medical cannabis already?

There is a lot of research still to be done!

Where, in your opinion, lies the greatest potential in the (medical) cannabis/ CBD industry in the next 5 years?

I hope that continued and even increased research will help clinicians make educated treatment decisions with patients, and that more knowledge of the benefits and risks of medical cannabis will lead to the development of well-informed policies and regulations that will ultimately improve care of patients who use medical cannabis.

Future of medical cannabis and CBD
• Where do you see the future going with both, medical cannabis and CBD in the US and worldwide?
• Do you foresee CBD being mainstream in cosmetics and food in 5 years from now?
• Do you believe in the health benefits of CBD in cosmetics/food or is it just an overrated hype?

It’s hard to answer these questions, because things are changing so rapidly in the medical cannabis field that in five years things might look very different on many levels than they do today!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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