Hostos Science Week, November 10, 2020 10:00 AM, Keynote presentation


Keynote: Hemp: Does it help? Is it hype? Can it hurt? The science behind Cannabis products. By Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D.

Hemp: Does it help? Is it hype? Can it hurt? The science behind Cannabis products

Chemical structure of CannabidiolCannabis sativa (marijuana), one of the world’s oldest drugs exhibiting a wide variety of medical benefits, is most recognized for its non-medical, psychotropic effects when smoked or inhaled. Phytocannabinoids are phytochemicals responsible for the majority of pharmacological effects attributed to Cannabis. Of the more than one hundred phytocannabinoids present in Cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are most recognized for their unique pharmacological activities.  This pharmacological activity stems from the ability of THC and CBD to activate the human endocannabinoid receptor system. THC is responsible for marijuana’spsychotropic effect (the feeling of being “high”), but CBD is non-psychotropic.  CBD not only modulates endocannabinoid receptors, but it affects a wide variety of other receptors which accounts for its broad range of pharmacological effects. In 2018, Congress redefined Cannabis sativa that contains <0.3% THC as “hemp,” which made it available for sale in many states without a prescription.  Hemp is a principal source of CBD and has been touted for a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, our understanding of CBD pharmacology is still in its infancy and many questions remain unanswered regarding its safety and efficacy. A wide variety of CBD-containing products are currently available for consumers; however, many of the label claims for these products do not reflect actual CBD content. In other instances, CBD products may be adulterated with THC in excess of 0.3% or with toxic synthetic cannabinoids. This webinar will provide an overview of CBD pharmacology along with an assessment of the efficacy, safety, and integrity of CBD-containing products.

Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D.


Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D.Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D., is Principal Scientist and director of the Clinical Research Facility within the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) at the University of Mississippi.  Prior to joining the NCNPR in 2019, Gurley was Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy, Vice-Chair of the UAMS Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Chair of the UAMS Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. He is a member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics as well as the USP’s Expert Panel on Dietary Supplements. Gurley also serves on the editorial boards of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, and Phytomedicine as well as the advisory board of the American Botanical Council.  He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, abstracts, and book chapters in the areas of pharmacokinetics, analytical method development, therapeutic drug monitoring, herbal dietary supplements, dietary supplement safety, and herb-drug interactions. A veteran of the “Ephedra Wars,” Gurley’s research and expert testimony helped get that controversial dietary supplement removed from the market. Gurley’s group was one of the first to conduct systematic clinical assessments of the herb-drug interaction potential of popular botanical dietary supplements. They were also among the first to describe the serious clinical repercussions of drug interactions involving St. John’s wort supplementation. His research interests include mechanisms of herb-drug interactions, toxicity of multiple-component herbal dietary supplements, phytochemical modulation of human drug metabolizing enzymes and transport proteins, human phytochemcial disposition, botanical supplement use in special populations, and Civil War medicine, particularly botanical remedies used in the Confederate Army. He is also the Chief Science Officer for Balm Innovations, LLC, makers of Omnibalm™.  Gurley received a B.S. in chemistry from Tennessee Technological University and a B.S. in pharmacy and Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.