Is Cannabis The Medicine of the Future?

July 3, 2017 - Blog

Anyone who’s looked at the science behind medical marijuana will suspect that the answer to the question is “yes”, and those of you in possession of a medical marijuana card are likely to know this first hand. But why? Here are some reasons …

1. The Number of Conditions it Treats

Marijuana can make you sleepy as well as keep you awake. Marijuana can help stimulate the appetite as well as control it. Marijuana can potentially treat depression, insomnia, cancer, epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), pain, diabetes, various neurological conditions … The list goes on.

How many drugs are out there that can treat as many conditions as marijuana possibly can? Moreover, how many drugs are out there that can treat conditions that are the opposite of one another (e.g. insomnia and narcolepsy)? Cannabis has such a wide variety of potential uses that it’d be almost impossible for any scientific-leaning mind to not be fascinated by its potential. There is clearly something special going on inside this plant, and figuring it out could mean cannabinoid-based medicines becoming de rigeur.

2. The Safety Margin

Benzodiazepines, amphetamines, barbiturates, opioids … The numbers of harsh pharmaceuticals that could potentially cause a deadly overdose are often prescribed without even a second thought. The label ‘medicine’ often means those prescribed them pop these pills without a second thought. Marijuana is nowhere near as dangerous or as addictive as these drugs. Also, as cannabinoids have health benefits, marijuana could be giving the body some much-needed wellness and nutritional value that synthesized pharmaceuticals don’t.

3. The Pediatric Potential

The combination of safety and the large number of conditions treated means that cannabis could very well be the pediatric medicine of the future. Any substance that has the therapeutic range that marijuana has combined with its low addiction and non-existent overdose rates, means that marijuana could well prove to be the perfect natural remedy for children’s medication.

Remember also that medications targeted towards children often have to be thoroughly researched, made to the highest standard possible and proven to be as safe as can be. Otherwise, you have angry parents, lawyers and media furores to contend with, and no company likes those. Cannabis fulfills a lot of the criteria used for medications that are made for children in mind.

4. Non-Invasiveness

One of the most common refrains amongst doctors and other healthcare professionals is “Do no harm”. If a doctor doesn’t have to cut a person up to cure them, they won’t (if they’re responsible doctors, that is). This is because lots can go wrong during surgery, and the physical and psychological after-effects can be quite traumatizing. This is especially true of young children.

Though it is unlikely that cannabis will cure the need for surgeries entirely, it can certainly replace nastier, heavier drugs. Also, cannabis’s potential to prevent and even inhibit tumor growth could mean that we have a potentially non-invasive, all-natural medicine on our hands that won’t necessarily cause the human body untold harm. The key to making marijuana the medicine of the future is in its cannabinoid and terpenoid profile, and seeing what sorts of concentrations work best for different conditions.

5. Did cannabis evolve alongside humans?

Look at the history of most settled civilizations, and you will find cannabis. This is not surprising: cannabis can grow in even the harshest of environments and has a multitude of uses as food, fiber, fuel and more. Cannabis also likes to outcross – that is, there are male and female (and hermaphrodite) cannabis plants, and they like to breed in order to produce strong, genetically varied offspring.

As mentioned above, cannabis can also have contradictory effects – no two plants are necessarily exactly the same, and even plants from the same stock can grow differently in different environments (e.g. the same strain of Nepali can grow sativa-like at high altitudes and indica-like at lower ones). The cannabis plant’s hardiness, contradictory effects and almost sociosexual-like behavior makes the plant very human-like.

There’s also the fact that we’ve been modifying and selectively breeding cannabis for thousands of years in order to make the plant more and more useful for us. It should be no surprise that different strains of marijuana seem to have their own personality – we pretty much made them that way!

Should governments and lawmakers the world over wake up and smell the caryophyllene, doctors and scientists can determine the medical potential with better accuracy. Until then, we have arbitrary and backwards legal frameworks to battle in order to get proper research done, and many are working on conjecture and “joining the dots” between different experiments and experiences. Hopefully, this will change soon, as people the world over start realizing the amazing potential marijuana has as a medicine.

Dr Frank D’Ambrosia is one of the US’ leading voices for medicinal cannabis policy reform. Through his medical practice, he aims to empower and educate people on the benefits of the substance for countless ailments helping those in need access a medical marijuana card.

Article by Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio