Prescription medicine (Schedule 4) for therapeutic use containing 2 per cent (2.0%) or less of other cannabinoids commonly found in cannabis (such as ∆9-THC). A schedule 4 drug under the SUSMP is Prescription Only Medicine, or Prescription Animal Remedy – Substances, the use or supply of which should be by or on the order of persons permitted by State or Territory legislation to prescribe and should be available from a pharmacist on prescription.
He leads me through Mindful’s bustling front offices and into its interior corridors. In freezers Mindful stores seeds from all over—Asia, India, North Africa, the Caribbean. A world traveler who’s become something of a Johnny Appleseed for marijuana, Hague is extremely interested in the plant’s historical biodiversity, and his seed bank of rare, wild, and ancient strains is a significant part of Mindful’s intellectual property. “We have to recognize that humans evolved with it practically since the dawn of time,” he says. “It’s older than writing. Cannabis use is part of us, and it always has been. It spread from Central Asia after the last ice age and went out across the planet with man.”
Hash oil is an extracted cannabis product that may utilize any part of the plant. Ideally, the final product will not contain any residual traces of solvents. It is generally thought to be indistinct from traditional hashish according to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (Schedule I and IV) as it is "the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from the cannabis plant".
Distinguishing cannabis and hemp can be confusing, so let's make it simple. There are many varietals of Cannabis sativa, all of which have different amounts of THC and CBD. Cannabis sativa varietals that have more than 0.3 percent THC are commonly referred to as marijuana. Hemp is any varietal of Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
Studies suggest one of the effects of cannabis oil could aid patients with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The THC and CBD chemicals interact with the body’s cells, which plays an important role in immune responses and gut functions. The THC-like compounds that the body produce increase the permeability of the intestines, which allows bacteria in. The cannabinoids from cannabis oil block these body-made cannabinoids helping to prevent the permeability and ensuring the intestinal cells have a tightened bond.
Emblem’s extraction team starts with specially selected, high-grade materials. The flowers first go through a grinding process, resulting in perfect particle size. Another important step in the process is decarboxylation (commonly referred to as decarbing). When cannabis in consumed, it usually goes through a heat source first (such as a vaporizer). Cannabis plants don’t actually make THC and CBD, but their alternate “acidic” form known as THCA and CBDA; it’s the heating process (decarboxylation) that transforms the compounds into their “active” state for medical efficiency.
A wealth of marketing material, blogs and anecdotes claim that cannabis oils can cure whatever ails you, even cancer. But the limited research doesn't suggest that cannabis oil should take the place of conventional medication, except for in two very rare forms of epilepsy (and even then, it's recommended only as a last-resort treatment). And, experts caution that because cannabis oil and other cannabis-based products are not regulated or tested for safety by the government or any third-party agency, it's difficult for consumers to know exactly what they're getting.
"Right now, any claims and dosing recommendations by any company making a CBD product for the medical marijuana market is purely anecdotal," he says. "Asking 100 people who use your product whether they feel better isn't real science. The products on the market are also different from what was used in the scientific studies that they are basing their claims upon. If a study found an anti-anxiety effect when dosing humans with synthetic CBD, that doesn't mean that your CBD oil that contains 18 percent CBD is going to reduce anxiety. It might even have the opposite effect."
He emphasises that the company’s products are “whole-plant extracts that include a variety of phytochemicals, not just CBD. These beneficial compounds include a range of phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that work together.” This isn’t necessarily seen as a positive by researchers, with McGuire saying: “They muddy the water.” However, Sativex is also a plant extract containing other cannabinoids and substances. David Potter, chief botanist at GW Pharmaceuticals, which makes the drug, says the evidence at the time the drug was developed “suggested there was a synergy between these active ingredients”.
Whether any of these CBD products will do anyone any good (or bad) is moot. “Cannabidiol is the hottest new medicine in mental health because the proper clinical trials do suggest it has clinical effects,” says Philip McGuire, professor of psychiatry and cognitive neuroscience at King’s College London. “It is the No 1 new treatment we’re interested in. But although there’s tons of stuff in the news about it, there’s still not that much evidence.” Large, long-term studies are needed; a 2017 review paper into the safety profile of CBD concluded that “important toxicological parameters are yet to be studied; for example, if CBD has an effect on hormones”.
Because of this classification, it's not easy for researchers to get their hands on the drug. "That's not to say you can't do it, but there are hoops you need to jump through that can be a pain, which may deter researchers from going into this space," Bonn-Miller said. "Relatively speaking, it's a small group of people in the U.S. that do research on cannabinoids in humans."
Typically, pharmaceutical companies making cannabis-based medicines have sought to isolate individual compounds from the plant. But Mechoulam strongly suspects that in some cases those chemicals would work much better in concert with other compounds found in marijuana. He calls this the entourage effect, and it’s just one of the many cannabis mysteries that he says require further study.
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