What is Medicinal Cannabis? Is All Cannabis Medicine?
The simplest answer to both of those questions is "Yes, all cannabis is medicinal." This might seem like a typical response from a pro-legalisation website but let us take a moment to explain.
Although different country's governments have different ideas about what makes a cannabis/cannabis-based medicine, the cannabis plant itself is already medicinal at the point of harvest before any processing takes place thanks to the rather useful chemical make-up of its essential oil.
What Makes Cannabis Medicinal?
Well, a lot of things. Cannabis and its essential oil, its resin, is host to over 500 different chemical components. These components include things such as:
- Terpenoids, like limonene, are partly responsible for the smell and taste of your cannabis. Notice how the smell changes sometimes or when you get a different strain? That's different plants with different terpene ratios aka terpene profiles. Terpenes are organic compounds found in both plants and animals which have scientifically demonstrable psychoactive healing properties.
- Flavinoids are found in abundance in cannabis which also help form the smell and taste of your cannabis. Not only does cannabis share some common flavinoids with other medicinal herbs and plants but it also has it's own unique ones called cannaflavins. Some of these have been found to also have medicinal applications within our body on a molecular level.
- Last but certainly not least the cannabis plant is host to over 110 cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids to be precise. These cannabinoids are unique to the cannabis plant. Many of them have been found to be fundamental to human and animal physiology providing excellent scientifically demonstrable healing properties as they interact with our own endocannabinoid system. According to the latest studies the endocannabinoid system works alongside multiple other systems within the body including both the nervous and immune systems which is why certain cannabinoids have such a profound effect in some people for many different conditions. The two most abundant and most studied cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
These are found at different levels throughout the cannabis plants growing cycle. These chemicals are most abundant in cannabis when it reaches maturity and is ready for harvest. It is prescribed as a medicine increasingly all over the world. It is prescribed in many different forms. All of which have varying levels of the above chemicals offering different healing properties for different diseases and symptoms.
Is Medicinal Cannabis The Same as Street Weed?
Street weed contains the same chemical components, albeit possibly in varying ratios, as those used for medicinal purposes all over the world. The main differences between street weed and legal medicinal cannabis is the standards to which it is grown and those allowed to grow it.
Skunk - Did You Know?
In an unregulated market cannabis can be grown using any types of fertilisers to any kind of strength. In an unregulated market profits favour the strongest and highest yielding types of cannabis cutting out variety and consumer choice and forcing the consumer to much higher potency strains than many would possibly choose in a legal regulated market.
Medicinal cannabis as a whole comes in many forms globally. The UK has one of the most restrictive and narrow legal medicinal cannabis markets in the world but we do have one, which might surprise many and brings us to our last little tid-bit.
Different Cannabis/Cannabinoid Medicines in the UK, The World, and Making Your Own.
Cannabis Medicines in the UK
In the UK we do actually have a small number of legal cannabis-based medicines. As far as we know this market is very narrow and access to it is very difficult. GW Pharmaceuticals are one of the UK's biggest cannabis-based medicine manufacturers. They have one product legally approved for prescription here in the UK called Sativex. It is approved for prescription for MS spasticity only. They have a number of products undergoing clinical trials for other illnesses including to help treat seizure disorders (Epidolex) and cancer treatments. CBD products.
Pharmaceutical companies have even started to create medicines from completely synthetic cannabinoids. A couple are prescribed in the UK for nausea and pain from AIDS and chemotherapy. Dronabinol (Marinol) and Nabilone. Dronabinol is synthetic lab produced THC isolate in a capsule. Nabilone is a synthetic analogue of THC. A molecule similar to THC but completely new and not found in the cannabis plant.
We also have a legal CBD market rising here in the UK now as the MHRA declared CBD a medicine.
Cannabis Medicines Around the World
Many places around the globe have legal access to cannabis in some form. When we look to the rest of the world for their experience with cannabis based medicines we can see a huge variety of options.