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.
If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched. “Right now,” he complains, “people don’t know what they’re getting. For it to work in the medical world, it has to be quantitative. If you can’t count it, it’s not science.”
Meanwhile, independent testing by accredited laboratories with globally accepted analytical methods ensures the organic extract is intact from pesticides, heavy metals, or microbiological contaminants. And reputable CBD companies have lab results from independent labs available on their websites, this can also be used as an indicator for consumers about what companies are providing high-quality CBD.
Sativex, a cannabis plant–derived oromucosal spray containing equal proportions of THC and CBD, has been approved in a number of countries for use to treat specific types of pain. Numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of Sativex for treatment of central and peripheral neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer pain. 
We’re standing in a laboratory greenhouse on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder looking at ten hemp plants that Kane recently procured for research purposes. They’re spindly, stalky little things, like gangling teenagers, a far cry from the lascivious crop that Hague had shown me. These plants, like nearly all hemp varieties, carry extremely low levels of THC.
In fact, numerous studies have looked at the relationship between CBD and pain, and the results are promising. Researchers have looked at various kinds of pain – from joint pain to cancer pain. One finding is that CBD increases levels of glutamate and serotonin – both neurotransmitters that play a role in pain regulation. And CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help by tackling the root cause of much chronic pain.
Zuardi, A. W., Crippa, J. A., Hallak, J. E., Bhattacharyya, S., Atakan, Z., Martin-Santos, R., … & Guimarães, F. S. (2012). A critical review of the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol: 30 years of a translational investigation [Abstract]. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 18(32), 5,131–5,140. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716160
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