What We Need to Know about Cannabis to Maximize Medical Use

By David Jenison on April 22, 2019

To paraphrase a trio of researchers from Israel and Canada, the medical benefits of cannabis are primarily defined by strain names and their terpene, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. In a study published by the European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the researchers argued that the biological pathways targeted by cannabis need to be characterized more accurately because the current information falls short. 

Noting the “hundreds of compounds in this plant,” the study argued for a comprehensive molecular profile of cannabis and clinical tests using various phytochemical mixtures to identify “superior therapeutic activity due to synergistic effects compared to individually isolated cannabis compounds.” This would entail more research into compounds like tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid (THCVA), cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA) and other cannabinoids and terpenes both in isolation and in various combinations. 

The U.S., like most countries, limits cannabis research to an egregious extent, but as this study shows, the medical community has largely abandoned the federally funded reefer madness of the Leave It to Beaver era and wants to carry out detailed research into all the ways that cannabis can help the world. 

“For drug development and design, absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination versus toxicity must be characterized, and therapeutic doses identified,” the study noted. “Promoting the quality and therapeutic activity of… cannabis products to pharma grade is a pressing need worldwide.”

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