What is Medical Cannabis?
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation describes medicinal cannabis as cannabis prescribed to relieve the symptoms of various medical conditions. Currently Australia only allows for patients to access high quality Medical Cannabis.
Some people suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses have found that conventional medicines do not work, or do not work as effectively as medicinal cannabis.
For some patient’s conventional medicines may work but they cause debilitating side effects that cannabis can help to relieve.
MEDICINAL CANNABIS VS RECREATIONAL CANNABIS
The main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which acts on specific receptors in the brain. Research has found that the cannabis plant produces between 80 and 100 cannabinoids and about 300 non-cannabinoid chemicals. The two main cannabinoids that have been found to have therapeutic benefits are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
It is important to make the distinction between medicinal cannabis and recreational cannabis. Recreational cannabis is the form of cannabis that people use to get ‘high’. Medical Cannabis is cultivated in a clean environment (glasshouse) dried in clean rooms and extracted in a TGA or euGMP certified facility and is used to improve people suffering from illnesses.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis plant. Of over 480 different compounds present in the plant, only around 66 are termed cannabinoids.
The best known among these compounds is the delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another important component of the plant resin extract.
Classes of cannabinoids
The cannabinoids are separated into the following subclasses:
• Cannabigerols (CBG)
• Cannabichromenes (CBC)
• Cannabidiol (CBD)
• Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
• Cannabinol (CBN)
• Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
• Other cannabinoids including cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT)
Effects of cannabinoids
Cannabinoids exert their effects by interacting with specific cannabinoid receptors present on the surface of cells.
These receptors are found in different parts of the central nervous system and the two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the body are CB1 and CB2.
In 1992, a naturally occurring substance in the brain that binds to CB1 was discovered, called anandamide. This cannabinoid-like chemical and others that were later discovered are referred to as endocannabinoids.