5 Things You Should Know About Medical Marijuana

cannabis marijuana medicinal bud, close-up

We human beings have been using cannabis for more than 5,000 years now — perhaps going hand-in-hand with the discovery of fire so the earliest tokers could light up! Experts came together at a recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the explicit purpose of discussing what scientists and doctors know about the drug and what they still need to learn.

This article is a summary of takeaways from that forum as they related to medical marijuana and additional commentary from the cannabis testing lab at Modern Canna Science.

How does marijuana work?

Our minds are predisposed to respond to marijuana, because “there are chemicals in our own bodies that act like THC [the psychoactive ingredient in pot]” and other compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids, explained Roger Pertwee, a neuropharmacologist in the U.K. Cannabinoids produced by our bodies or ingested through marijuana use interact with receptors in our brains called the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in appetite, mood, memory, and pain sensation.

What are the known medical uses of marijuana?

Cannabis has been used for decades to increase appetite and treat nausea and vomiting, especially in patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. Its success in easing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis patients led to the development of Sativex, a drug that includes THC and cannabidiol, a cannabinoid that isn’t psychoactive.
Marijuana or cannabis-derived drugs have shown promise in treating anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and neuropathic pain, but much of the evidence is still anecdotal and is awaiting confirmation in clinical trials.
States that have legalized medical marijuana also have several medical marijuana treatment centers which are licensed to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana.

Why are there not more clinical trials?

In the U.S, it’s hard to get funding for a cannabis clinical trial, said Igor Grant, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego. Pharmaceutical companies prefer to invest in developing drugs they can patent, and the federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or a dangerous substance with no medical benefit. Researchers who want to work with the drug need approval from multiple federal agencies, Grant explained. He supports reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule III drug, which are recognized as having an accepted medical use and less potential for abuse for Schedule I and II drugs.

What, if any, are the safety concerns with medical marijuana?

“There is no evidence for long-term damaging effects in adults,” Grant said. Initial data linking marijuana use to an increased risk of schizophrenia have not been supported by further studies. The only confirmed long-term effect of marijuana use by adults is chronic bronchitis, he said.

Now, the situation may be different for children and adolescents, whose brains are still in the developing stages. A study found that people who were heavy marijuana users as teenagers had lower IQs than their peers 20 years later, but the sample size was extremely small, Grant explained. Recently, scientists have started imaging the brains of teenagers before and after they start using marijuana, but the research needs to continue for much longer to fully understand how cannabis affects the developing brain.

What about testing for contaminants?

In a study from University of California Davis, medical marijuana obtained from Northern California dispensaries were found to contain traces of bacteria and fungi. The study concluded that 90% of the cannabis tested had microorganisms that may lead to serious lung infections.
This is why it’s absolutely critical for the growers’ reputation and user safety to have cannabis samples tested.

Contaminants found in cannabis can come from a number of sources, including but not limited to, pesticides, growth mediums, groundwater, pests, and airborne pollutants. Marijuana contamination testing at Modern Canna Science, a state-of-the-art lab in Florida, utilizes the latest instrumentation for identifying known toxins to humans. Contact us today to inquire about our testing services.

Additional Resources:
1. Harvard Health, “Medical Marijuana: Know the Facts,” https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/medical-marijuana-know-the-facts
2. Health.com, “Benefits & Risks of Medical Marijuana: 10 Things to Know,” http://www.health.com/pain/marijuana-benefits-risks

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.