Former Utah Congressman launches company to study cannabis

Tuesday , December 05, 2017 - 3:31 PM

BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner

Ogden based company CBD Infusions sells CBD oil at local smoke shops and online. The product is made with cannabinoids from hemp, but doesn't contain any active THC. Certain CBD oils are legal in Utah for limited uses. Former Utah Congressman Chris Cannon has launched a new company for the purpose of conducting cannabidiol studies after the passage of House Bill 130 during the 2017 legislative sessions.

CATHY MCKITRICK, Standard-Examiner Staff

SPRINGVILLE — Former Utah Congressman Chris Cannon has launched a new company for the purpose of conducting cannabidiol studies, the first which will focus on Utah participants wrestling with pain, anxiety or sleep issues.

Based in Springville, Endo-C organized this spring after the passage of House Bill 130 during the 2017 Legislative session. Rep. Brad Daw, an Orem Republican, sponsored that legislation to allow companies such as Endo-C to conduct cannabis research under the supervision of a doctor and an institutional review board.

Cannon, chairman of Endo-C, lives in Mapleton. His connection to cannabis research is personal — his daughter battled cancer and endured pain through the journey that ultimately took her life in December 2003. A friend of Cannon’s told him that cannabis could have eased her pain, and that idea fueled his Endo-C endeavor.

“We realized a long time ago that we should be doing something with CBD,” Cannon said by phone Tuesday. But legislative groundwork had to be laid to make that possible — since 1971 the plant has been classified at the federal level as a schedule I controlled substance, which makes it an illicit drug.

The federal Farm Bill of 2014 helped by authorizing institutions of higher education or state departments of agriculture to conduct research and pilot programs using industrial hemp, the non-psychoactive form of cannabis. That opened the door for CBD oil to gain recognition as a potential source of symptom relief for a variety of diseases and conditions.

RELATED: CBD oil touted as broadly beneficial, but still potentially illegal

Cannon said he worked with Daw to craft HB 130 this year, and shortly after it was signed into law, Endo-C’s research began.

“We have about 100 people in our study now and know a lot about what it does for pain,” Cannon said. “So we announced today (Dec. 5) that we’re now open publicly to bring more people into the study.”

Ogden resident Randy Bambrough, chief financial officer for Endo-C, is excited about the company’s mission.

“One of the reasons I decided to join (Endo-C) is that I saw this as a company that could help people live happier, more productive lives,” Bambrough said. “I’d been in Silicon Valley for a number of years, but had never been in anything where I could see its direct effect on people.”

The initial study uses CBD gel capsules that lack the psychoactive compound in marijuana called Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. But Bambrough said that future studies could involve CBD products containing up to 10 percent THC as permitted by HB 130.

“We’ve had a study underway for about six months, but our website had to be upgraded and we needed the ability to process thousands of participants,” Bambrough said. “We’ve now got the ability to scale very quickly. We’re only in Utah today because of the Farm Bill and HB 130, but our aspirations are to branch into other states in the future.”

Since the federal Food and Drug Administration is not conducting Endo-C’s longitudinal study, participants will be charged a monthly fee of about $280, Bambrough said.

“We have to pay for product, medical supervision and overhead. So for the fee, you’re getting a precisely measured quantity from a known source with medical supervision,” Bambrough said.

Dr. Steve Warren, a Bountiful family practitioner, will provide that medical oversight. Warren brings rare insight from both sides of the fence — he abused prescription narcotics for a brief time in the early 1990s while serving as the only physician in San Juan County. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to five felonies in 7th District Court, was placed on probation for five years, and was prohibited from reapplying for a state-controlled substance license for two years.

That brief episode more than two decades ago “probably gives me a better perspective,” Warren said by phone Thursday. He and his wife now run a clinic in Bountiful focusing on regenerative medicine and alternative pain management.

According to Utah’s Division of Professional Licensing, Warren is licensed to practice family medicine and to prescribe controlled substances. He hasn’t had any disciplinary actions taken against him in at least the last decade. 

Utah residents interested in participating in the Endo-C study can sign up at www.endo-c.com/studies

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.