By Michael C. Patterson
Cannabis is now legal for medical purposes in 33 states and adult use is legal in 11 states. With more states legalizing cannabis, the ability to perform research on cannabis has increased. Cannabis has become more available, at a state level, to study and research its effects on the human body. Cannabis is made up of cannabinoids, a class of diverse chemical compounds that act on the human cannabinoid receptors, also known as the Endocannabinoid system. Until recently, it was widely believed that the cannabinoid, CBD or cannabidiol, had more health benefits than another well-known cannabinoid, THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the cannabinoid which produces the “high” feeling and has been demonized for decades as a detriment to individuals and society.
A research study published in the journal, Scientific Reports, May 2019, tracked almost 20,000 cannabis sessions from 3,400 patients. The research team from the University of New Mexico stated through their spokesman, Jacob Miguel Vigil, “Despite the conventional wisdom, both in the popular press and much of the scientific community that only (cannabidiol-CBD) has medical benefits while (tetrahydrocannabinol-THC) merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important that CBD in generating therapeutic benefits.”
To come to this conclusion, researchers had 3,400 patients use an app called Releaf. On this app, participants would note a variety of details about their cannabis use sessions over the time span of nearly two years. The participants would record type of cannabis consumed (flower, concentrate, edible, etc.), the combustion method (joint, vapor, pipe, etc.), subspecies of the cannabis plant (Sativa, Indica, Ruderalis), and cannabinoid content of THC and CBD. The patients also rated the severity of up to 27 health conditions or symptoms before and after self-administration of the cannabis product and tracked any side effects they experienced. Based upon the data, Vigil’s team concluded that “CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements of symptom relief.”
While this study is far from meeting the strenuous standard of an FDA clinical trial, it does give more data to ascertain that all parts of the cannabis plant can be beneficial. Many FDA prescriptions are not curing disease, but merely managing or limiting symptoms of diseases. Just because many think THC is bad for patients doesn’t make it an accurate assumption.
Anecdotal evidence from thousands of participants is a standard metric for cannabis studies as of now. With the 2018 Farm bill becoming law in December 2018, CBD derived from hemp is now 100 percent completely legal. This new legal product will allow for federal research to be performed on CBD at a very high level in order to potentially develop new medications.
More clinical studies on effects of all cannabinoids, including THC are needed. But one of the most important facts of cannabis use has never changed, which is cannabis has never caused a death in human history. As physicians begin to be exposed to objective information on cannabis, more of them are becoming advocates of medical cannabis. Florida now has over 2,600 doctors qualified to recommend cannabis as a medicine and the list of qualified physicians is increasing at approximately 15 per week.
Michael C. Patterson, founder and CEO of U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research & Development of Melbourne, is a consultant for the development of the medical marijuana industry nationwide and in Florida. He serves as a consultant to Gerson Lehrman Group, New York and helps educate GLG partners on specific investment strategies and public policy regarding Medical Marijuana in the U.S. and Internationally. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org