There is so much in the news about medical marijuana.
Let’s understand what that it uses the marijuana plant or chemicals in it to treat diseases or conditions. It’s basically the same product as recreational marijuana, but it’s taken for medical purposes.
The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are the main chemicals used in medicine.
THC also produces the “high” people feel when they smoke marijuana or eat foods containing it.
What is medical marijuana used for?
Medical marijuana is used to treat a number of different conditions, including:
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Appetite loss
• Crohn’s disease
• Eating disorders such as anorexia
• Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Multiple sclerosis
• Muscle spasms
• Wasting syndrome (cachexia)
But it’s not yet proven to help many of these conditions.
How does it help?
Cannabinoids — the active chemicals in medical marijuana — are similar to chemicals the body makes that are involved in appetite, memory, movement and pain.
Research suggests cannabinoids might:
• Reduce anxiety
• Reduce inflammation and relieve pain
• Control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy
• Kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth
• Relax tight muscles in people with MS
• Stimulate appetite and improve weight gain in people with cancer and AIDS
The processThe following describes how medical marijuana is created:
“In order to create medicines that are safe, effective and up to the standards expected of medical products, our manufacturing process is consistent, precise and subject to rigorous review. The products are designed to satisfy and exceed the most exacting pharmaceutical standard. They are medicines that doctors can trust and incorporate into standard treatment.
“The process begins with our genetics. Producers possess a diverse stock of genetic strains of cannabis, each with its own cannabinoid and terpene profile. Each selected strain is grown organically without the use of pesticides or fertilizers. Each plant grown is a clone of a mother plant of a particular strain to ensure genetic consistency.
“When the plants are mature they are harvested then dried and cured for a length of time determined by the desired cannabinoid content. During the process of drying and curing the cannabinoid content changes. For instance, raw cannabis has very little THC and a lot of THCA. While drying THCA converts into THC. This process happens with other cannabinoids as well.
“Once the plants have been dried and cured to the proper specifications, they are moved to extraction. In order to create medical cannabis products, the medicinal oils that contain the bulk of the cannabinoid and terpene content must separate from the cellulose and other plant matter. Many companies accomplish this by using flammable solvents like alcohol and butane.
“After extraction comes quality control. Samples are taken from the batch of oil produced. The samples are checked for contaminants and health risks. If the samples pass the rigorous safety checks they are then analyzed for cannabinoid and terpene content to ensure they match the formulations we are seeking. If the samples meet the requirements of both tests, the batch is passed on to product manufacturing where the oil is put into standardized products, such as capsules, tinctures, and oil for vaporizing using pharmaceutical grade equipment.
“This process created the same product, every time. All of our products are benchmarked for efficacy and composition and produced to the very same specifications every time.”
Bill Spitalnick is a business development consultant and medical liaison in the medical marijuana industry in New York and Florida