Pharmacologist Mahmoud ElSohly, the head of the nation’s only federally approved marijuana farm, has revealed recently in a podcast that he is developing cannabis eye drops to treat glaucoma.
In the podcast interview, the director of the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Research Project, discussed the history of how an eye doctor discovered that cannabis can relieve the interocular pressure associated with glaucoma, however the THC in marijuana can make a person high.
“The best way to treat glaucoma is not to take a drug that will affect your brain, affect your ability to function, the whole rest of your body just to lower the pressure inside the eyes,” ElSohly said. “The way to do this is to develop, let’s say, eye drops, eye drops from marijuana.”
ElSohly’s lab and a separate, unnamed company that licensed the idea are looking into the eye drop possibility. The company has already started clinical trials.
ElSohly said that because THC is lipophilic, acting like an oil, “it doesn’t penetrate into the inner compartments of the eye to lower the pressure.”
“Therefore, only if you take systemically—meaning if you inhale it or swallow it or something—but then you deal with all the side effects of THC,” he explained. “Now we’re developing a pharmaceutical product, and it’s been licensed by the way now, that we take the THC molecule and we modify it in a certain way to allow it to go inside the eye, and once inside, it breaks off and releases THC just in the eye to lower the pressure.”
“You don’t feel any psychological activity, it doesn’t even get into your blood. It’s all localized in the eye,” he said. “We have this product now that is being licensed and being developed as an eye drop.”
Currently, the University of Mississippi is the only federally approved source of research-grade marijuana.