Researchers tested a new form of medical marijuana that treats pain but doesn’t get the user high, prompting patients who need medical marijuana to declare, ‘Thank you??’ ~Jimmy Fallon
It turns out you don’t have to inhale or ingest to get high on marijuana. I’m talking about the feeling you get from Good News: promising advances in cannabis research, increasing legal availability, and perhaps even rewarding investment opportunities. You probably know that research on cannabis (aka marijuana and its derivatives) is severely restricted in the US because of, in my opinion, our outdated classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 Drug:
Schedule 1 drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote
Fortunately, that doesn’t stop other countries from doing laboratory and clinical trials of cannabis (THC, CBD, and other constituents). You can even buy CBD preparations in most pharmacies these days — despite the lack of proven effectiveness. Fortunately, cannabis research is booming.
In the United States, as of January 2019, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is legal in 33 states. There is considerable variation in medical cannabis laws from state to state, including how it is produced and distributed.
In this issue, I’ll give you a taste of cannabis compounds that may treat cancer, introduce the entourage effect of cannabinoids, and how health professionals can be certified in medical marijuana.
Cannabis Compounds Slow Colon Cancer in the Lab
Cannabinoids are promising in the treatment of cancer, dementia, diabetes, glaucoma, and many other conditions, including pain management. Here I highlight a recent laboratory study on colon cancer.
While the compounds most commonly associated with cannabis — THC and CBD — showed little to no effect, 10 other [cannabinoid] compounds were effective at inhibiting cancer cell growth. … Kent Vrana, chair of the pharmacology department at the Penn State College of Medicine, says the study helped identify compounds that researchers could test further to understand their anti-cancer properties.
Good News: Three families of cannabinoid compounds were found to reduce colorectal cancer cell viability. Future modification of these compounds may lead to the development of novel therapies to treat this disease.
THC! CBD! Terpenoids! Cannabis Science Is Getting Hairy
As cannabis continues its march toward decriminalization, more researchers can more easily study this complex and still mysterious plant. Did you know that our bodies contain receptors for THC and CBD? Yes, in the ’90s, researchers showed that we have a natural endocannabinoid system that helps regulate mood and immune functions.
At the top of the list of mysteries is how a galaxy of compounds in the plant combine to produce a galaxy of medical (and, of course, recreational) effects. For example, THC feels different when combined it with cannabidiol, or CBD, another naturally occurring compound in cannabis, but the reasons aren’t fully known. It’s called the entourage effect: THC, like a rock star, only reaches its full potential when it rolls with a crew, consisting of hundreds of other compounds in the plant that scientists know about so far. … You may have noticed that cannabis’ effects can differ wildly from experience to experience. Eat a weed brownie, for instance, and the THC goes straight to your liver, where it’s metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC. That metabolite “has five times the activity at the CB1 receptor, the psychoactive one, as THC itself,” says Jeff Raber, CEO of the Werc Shop, a cannabis lab in California.
Good News: Researchers are finally beginning to understand how CBD might modulate the often unwelcome effects of THC. CBD protects against the paranoia and anxiety and the racing heart that THC produces. Then there are terpenoids, another component of the cannabis entourage or ensemble. Cannabis is complicated, but researchers continue to tease apart the chemistry of cannabis, unlocking its true potential as a medicine.
In the interest of full disclosure concerning this issue, especially in the following section, I am an employee of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and have a doctoral degree in pharmacology. However, the opinions expressed here are my own and are not those of the University of the Sciences or any other institution or company.
Medical Cannabis Certification and MBA
You may not realize that physicians, pharmacists, and nurses receive next to no education on cannabis as a therapeutic option. Fortunately, the University of the Sciences is at the forefront in helping to educate healthcare professionals and those interested in the burgeoning cannabis industry. For example, USciences just started offering an MBA program with a Cannabis Option.
The Substance Use Disorders Institute at USciences provides much needed education for health professionals working in states that allow the use of medical cannabis: a certification course to prepare medical professionals in Pennsylvania dispensaries and general training for all healthcare professionals who want to guide patients and answer their questions.
Good News: It’s not too late to register for a 4-hour certification course: Medical Cannabis: Clinical Considerations and Dispensing in PA (4 continuing education hours) on Tuesday, December 3rd.
In case you were wondering, yes, this is Issue #26, but I couldn’t resist the 420 references. As you can guess, I’m excited about the health benefits of cannabis and its derivatives as new research and professional training takes hold. In the future, your budtender will have professional certification!
To learn more, here’s a great resource compiled by the Library at USciences: The Medicine in Marijuana
Dr. Rod Murray