Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states as of November 2018. Yet the federal government still insists marijuana has no legal use and is easy to abuse. In the meantime, medical marijuana dispensaries have an increasing array of products available for pain, anxiety, sex and more. The glass counters and their jars of products in the dispensary resemble an 18th century pharmacy.
Many strains for sale have evocative and magical names like Blue Dream, Bubba Kush and Chocolope. But what does it all mean? Are there really differences in the medical qualities of the various strains? Or, are the different strains with the fanciful names all just advertising gimmicks.
I am a professor in the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. I have lived in California a long time and remember the Haight-Ashbury Summer of Love. While in graduate school, I worked with professor Alexander Shulgin, the father of designer drugs, who taught me the chemistry of medicinal plants.
Afterwards, while a professor at USC, I learned Chumash healing from a Native American Chumash healer for 14 years from 1998 until 2012. She taught me how to make medicines from Californian plants, but not marijuana, which is not native to the U.S. Currently, I am teaching a course in medical marijuana to pharmacy students.
Source of medicinal compounds
If there is one thing about marijuana that is certain: In small doses it can boost libido in men and women, leading to more sex. But can marijuana really be used for medical conditions New research is revealing that marijuana is more than just a source of cannabinoids, chemicals that may bind to cannabinoid receptors in our brains, which are used to get high. The most well-known is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Marijuana is a particularly rich source of medicinal compounds that we have only begun to explore. In order to harness the full potential of the compounds in this plant, society needs to overcome misconceptions about marijuana and look at what research clearly says about the medical value.
The FDA has already made some moves in this direction by approving prescription drugs that come from marijuana including dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols and cannabidiol. Dronabinol and nabilone are cannabinoids that are use for nausea. Nabiximols which contain THC, the compound most responsible for marijuana’s high and cannabidiol; which does not induce a high are used to treat multiple sclerosis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is also used to treat some types of epilepsy.
Marijuana, originally from the Altai Mountains in Central and East Asia; contains at least 85 cannabinoids and 27 terpenes; fragrant oils that are produce by many herbs and flowers that may be active; drug-like compounds. THC is the cannabinoid everyone wants in order to get high. It is produce from THC acid which constitutes up to 25 percent of the plant’s dry weight by smoking or baking any part of the marijuana plant.