Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Controlled Medical Substance

"My object is to have it extensively and exactly tested without favour or prejudice, for the experience of four years has established the conviction in my mind, that we possess no remedy at all equal to this in anti-convulsive and anti-neuralgic power."
William O'Shaughnessy, 19th-Century Irish physician

"When we started out, we thought that really, the only role for CBD (cannabidiol) was to modify the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). We now know that CBD may well have therapeutic applications in its own right. And the significant number of other cannabinoids, which only appear in tiny quantities typically in the plants, may have very interesting roles to play, as well. So I think it's that breadth of what one plant has to offer that's the real surprise."
"It's what gardeners do to get the perfect rose. It's the same basic principle. We're not creating new plants so much as drawing out one particular aspect of an existing plant."
Mark Rogerson, spokesperson, GW Pharmaceuticals, Britain

Dr. William O'Shaughnessy is credited with the first fairly modern Western research on the use of medical cannabis use. After years of practising medicine in India, he began a survey of cannabis use for pain relief and related applications. His 1843 report published in Provincial Medical Journey and Retrospect of the Medical Sciences related cannabis's successful use as an appetite stimulant in small doses, and as a sedative in larger doses.

This was by no means the first acknowledged use of cannabis as a medicinal; archaeologists -- according to a newly-published book, A New Leaf: The End of Cannabis Prohibition, written by Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian -- found its use went back to the Neolithic period (4000 B.C.) in China. It was useful as a therapy for various diseases in the Roman Empire, across Africa and the Middle East.

Cannabis extracts were recognized as a new therapeutic medicine throughout Europe and the United States, and medical cannabis was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia for a century before its fall from grace in 1941, succumbing to a growing belief in the plant's inherent dangers. The study of the active compounds in cannabis began in the late 1930s. Cannabinoid science took off when a professor of medicinal chemistry and natural products at Hebrew University in Jerusalem described the structure of CBD in 1963.

A resurgence of interest in the medical use of cannabis arose in recognition of the therapeutic properties of CBD, ranging from anti-inflammatory to analgesic to anti-spasm effects, without providing the high so common with the chemical THC. An Israeli company has produced a strain of cannabis with lots of CBD and only trace amounts of THC.

GW Pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom changed the conventional pharmaceutical formula focusing on an increased presence of CBD; their product, Sativex, is the fist cannabinoid-based medicine created from cannabis plants they grow themselves in company greenhouses, using equal portions of THC and CBD. It is applied as an oral spray, absorbed into the bloodstream through the mouth's soft tissues.

A medicinal marijuana product that produces little-to-nothing in the way of mental intoxication while providing pain relief for patients would have no interest for recreational drug users.

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