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CBDs – the science of medical marijuana

Interesting article today in the Washington Post. I admit to not being up as much as I’d like on the science of the content of cannabis as it relates to medicinal properties (and that’s largely the fault of federal government suppression of such research), but I’ve been very interested in learning more about the difference between strains that are bred more for CBDs as opposed to those bred for THC.

One of the natural side-effect of prohibition has been the almost total focus on THC and less research on various combinations of elements in cannabis.

Form of medical marijuana won’t get you high, but it’s creating a buzz by Karl Vick

The singular peculiarity of Courtney’s “pot doc” practice here in Northern California is what he recommends: Don’t smoke the stuff, he tells patients. Eat it.

And no, he’s not talking about brownies — he’s talking raw. It’s bitter, and won’t get you high, but still has strong medicinal properties.

Fascinating stuff, and goes to show how much more research we need to do on this useful plant without the stigma and repression of prohibition in the way.

“Twenty years ago it was just cannabis,” [Addison DeMoura] said. “The bridge to legalization is medical marijuana. I believe the bridge from medical marijuana to real science will be CBDs.”

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25 comments to CBDs – the science of medical marijuana

  • denmark

    When this story broke about the CBD in the leaf of the plant and a lesser high I had mixed feelings. Those mixed feelings are still with me.
    Medical marijuana is wonderful and all states should have it in place now however, it concerns me that we’re heading in the wrong direction all of a sudden. The pharmacy companies are lurking and waiting for the right moment to attack in other words, and most likely will ruin the entire plant.

    I don’t believe CBD’s were breed out of the plant for stronger THC content as the article suggests. THC content going higher is a result of prohibition.

    And, when I’m finally able to use cannabis again I want to get “high”, period. Not crazy high, just high.

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  • Oddly enough the International Cannabinoid Research Society http://cannabinoidsociety.org/ held their 2009 symposium in Illinois, and yet we have once again failed to pass a law protecting medical cannabis patients. The research on the therapeutic value of CBs is vast, however many of the researchers and presenters (not all, but most) that i encountered at the symposium felt that those “long haired, frisbee throwing hippies trying to legalize medical marijuana didn’t have a clue as to the reason CBs are medically beneficial.” Of course i was there under the pretense of being part of the press covering the conference for the Indy Media Center of Chicago (Conference organizers insisted on approving any coverage and retained all authority to edit any media coverage) but a decent amount of those i interacted with felt that medical cannabis in its herbal and natural form was “too crude” to be called a medicine. One need only look to the symposium sponsorship to see the likely reason for this anti-Mother Nature approach; NIDA, Abbott Labs, NIAAA, GW Pharmaceuticals. . . . . . . . In my opinion every state that pass a law allowing patients to cultivate their medicine directly infringes on these groups’ profits, hence their reluctance to support medical cannabis in its natural form.

    Also check out the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (note the plurality of Medicines) http://www.cannabis-med.org/ for more info on the latest CB research. And finally i’d suggest those who do not hold advance degrees in chemistry, pharmacology or any other medical field to check out The Cannabis Papers, for a citizens guide to cannabinoids, http://www.illinoisnorml.org/content/section/18/129/ Of course those with advance degrees should also read it :-)

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  • Duncan

    My comment to this article also posted on the WaPo website:

    “Marinol is actually support for this article’s thesis, that whole cannabis contains other chemicals that are medically efficacious. Many point to marinol and say they can have their medical cannabis through this pill. It is ironic that those against medical pot should promote marinol because they have some pathological notion that ‘getting high’ needs to be eliminated. Giving scientists and doctors free reign to study this plant will inevitably produce several, if not dozens of compounds that are medically efficacious but contain little to no THC. Why in the owrld would a medical patient reject marinol if the point is to just ‘get high’? It’s pure THC, available from a pharmacy, and in many cases covered by insurance. Yet for some reason the majority of patients who try it choose whole cannabis despite it’s being illegal, and expensive.

    Let doctors and scientists make the decisions, not politicians with a political agenda or know nothing laymen who are untrained medically and simply against ‘getting high’ for no other reason than that they are against people ‘getting high’.”

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  • Duncan

    @denmark, it is correct that high THC plants were bred because of prohibition but it is also true that it was prohibition that caused CBDs to be all but eliminated from high potency cannabis. If you want true breeding plants you’ve got to choose either high CBD or high THC plants, and since the black market demanded high THC the practical result is the elimination of high CBD plants. Ironically, I’d love to dabble in growing high CBD plants myself, but have no good source for hemp seed. Yes, I can find and have delivered withing a week high THC cannabis but can’t for the life of me obtain low THC/high CBD seeds because of prohibition.

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  • Duncan

    Here’s a CA dispensary that is actively working to supply low THC/high CBD content cannabis to patients:

    http://harborsidesanjose.com/highcbdstrains
    http://blog.norml.org/2010/04/09/new-strain-of-medicinal-marijuana-announced/

    Genuine patients want genuine medicine, and from what I know about medical cannabis the best medicine are not high THC strains.

    Apologies for being long winded today, but this is my personal ‘hot button’ subject.

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  • Bruce

    I love the variety of outdoor homegrown, even with mould fly wings and spider legs..
    Wheres Monty Santo? My crystal portal reveals tricksters itching to patent and genetic-engineer our weed…No more Purple.

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  • denmark

    Was looking through my mound of paper work on cannabis to find out the difference between Sativa and Indica. Couldn’t find it, sorry. I do know, remember, that the Indica is the one that relaxes and the Sativa is the one that gives energy. The reason this is brought up is because the “one armed man” made a comment about it making him pass out. Well, he’s probably using the Indica, which is the most prevalent type out there. And what’s with the one armed man thing, is this supposed to invoke sympathy of some sort?

    We’d have all the answers we need if there had never been marijuana prohibition, so while I appreciate the “research” and the “results” I’m apprehensive to be supportive of any doctor touting his cure.

    WAMM has known for a very long time about the entire plant and they use the stems, leafs and every thing else to make flour and cook muffins for their collective members.

    And I shouldn’t have said “crazy high”, gads. Taught myself to be more cautious with what I type.

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  • Omni Consumer Products

    The pharmaceutical companies don’t like this talk of treating with cannabis. Corporations and experts with teleprompters know best. Move along nothing to see or hear here.

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  • claygooding

    As more and more people dabble with the genetics and crossing strains,someone will get the right mix for a balanced high,as they are trying to do with injected thc and cbd’s at this study:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2cAFRAX3Gs&feature=player_embedded

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  • denmark

    There are going to be plenty of people who will want to continue taking pharmaceuticals, I really don’t believe Legalization will cut into their profits all that much. They’re just greedy bastards and don’t want to lose one single cent.
    As was posted on another blog awhile back cannabis is a preventative medicine. Much like taking a supplement and to not allow everyone to use it is a crime.

    What I’m seeing is a divide developing between medical and the legalize crowd and this upsets me. I am pissed off at those medical marijuana patients that have stopped supporting Legalization.
    We are moving to a medical mj state soon and I qualify. Once I’m feeling better, which won’t be long, you can bet I’ll be pounding the pavement with greater frequency to end Prohibition.

    (may go past three posts today Pete, this one has got my goat).

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  • That’s OK, denmark. This is a good discussion.

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  • Dano

    I can attest that higher CBD strains, in opposition to higher THC strains, seem to help issues like arthritis much more. I know of patients that have been growing their own strains that were much better for longer term pain relief than other strains, and upon testing it was found that these strains did have a much higher CBD level than usual. Unfortunately most of the medical dispensaries are clueless when you ask these kinds of questions, but there are a few that have turned to high tech testing to get this information.

    Some of the truly patient oriented forums have information on this kind of detail along with patients that have tried various strains and cultivated their own varieties that work better for them. Unfortunately the more industrious testers end up becoming targets by putting out too much information and their whole crop and research usually seems to get culled by the police. Try dedicating 3-5 years of your time to create a stable strain high in CBDs and then have it all yanked in a single raid…

    Marijuana turns out to be a wonder plant in so many ways. It should be respected as a personal choice and by no means a criminal act to posses in any form.

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  • Just me.

    Getting high is the whole point, these medical people are always trying to make you feel better without making you feel better. Isnt it the whole”soul healing” part of getting high part of feeling better? Or dont we have souls therefor …no reason to heal the soul?

    (I can hear it now….Burn the witch!)

    Sorry , I would chosse to heal the soul too.

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  • Duncan

    It’s simply untrue that the big pharma’s aren’t interested in cannabinoids. Bayer backs GW Pharmaceutical in development of Sativex. There are lots of people who think that ‘you can’t patent a plant’ when nothing could be further from the truth. Plant varieties are patented probably on a regular basis, and 10s of thousands of plant patents have been issued. Yes Virginia, they can patent plants, and they can also patent specific methods of extraction and specific compounds derived from the plant. I only wonder if those cannabis medicines from the late 1800s/early 1900s were patented, and if that results in those particular formularies being in the public domain. But the current pharma companies don’t seem to have a problem tweaking their formulas slightly resulting in the same old drug with a new patent. Yeah, yeah, slightly new and ‘improved’.

    Following is my opinion only, based on my personal observation. The divide of medical vs recreational is happening because of the backlash against medical being a ‘stalking horse’ for legalization. This is one of the main propaganda points by those who would have politicians making medical decisions. The sad thing about taking this attitude is legalization for recreational use would immediately take the people who ‘don’t need medical but signed up to get high’ out of the dispensaries leaving the sick and suffering to their medicine, and preventing much of the hokum criticism leveled by the enemies of freedom. Frankly the whole thing is so irrational that sometimes I think my head is going to explode. There is nothing whatever wrong with getting high, nothing. It absolutely does not violate the rights of others. Those that engage in behaviors that do violate the rights of others while they’re high should be punished for that behavior. But it is not a foregone conclusion that someone that is high will get behind the wheel of a car. Oh, BTW there’s a new comprehensive, double blind study testing out people’s driving after consuming cannabis and once again it’s certified that the only noticeable change in driving behavior while under the influence is driving a bit slower, resulting in a not statistically significant rating of being slightly safer than sober. Go figure. But don’t expect me to try to sell that story to the public. I’ll continue to fully back stiff laws for driving while impaired by anything. I must say that I do think I was lucky that I didn’t crack up my car the first few years I was dancing with Mary Jane. There’s a significant difference between a neophyte and an experienced user. But I was young and foolish, and back then there was still an odds on chance that a drunk impaired to the point of nearly passing out driver who a cop would pull over would get ordered to drive directly home and not come out again until sober. Possibly the police car would follow the drunk to ‘insure’ safety though I never have fathomed how a sober driver following a drunk would be able to insure safety. But that was the 1970s.
    link to driving study: http://tinyurl.com/3yr6h9p

    Anyway, I never knew the actual etiology of the term ‘stalking horse’ but went and looked it up today. I’ve always thought it was a reference to the famous Trojan Horse story from ancient times but that’s not what it is. Oh well, I learn something new every day whether I like it or not.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalking_horse

    Like I said above, my hot button issue. Regards all.

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  • Duncan

    @Just me, I can assure you that my dear friend Skippy who passed away in 2002 from leukemia was not consuming cannabis to ‘get high’. Watch someone die over a couple of years from a disease like that, see the relief they get when they can get supplied, see how they suffer when the supply isn’t there because the black market can be hit or miss, particularly for the gravely ill. Then get back to me on how fucking offensive you find it that people think that medical cannabis is all about ‘getting high’. No, it isn’t. Not by a fucking long shot. The only people who think that don’t have any first hand experience with just how efficacious medical cannabis is as a palliative.

    Oh BTW, my dear friend Skippy was an medical doctor, by preference and by profession. He could have written himself a prescription for anything available at the pharmacy, or had one of hundreds of doctors write it for him no questions asked, but he found relief in whole cannabis. Have you ever seen a cancer patient puking his guts out after suffering chemotherapy? Do you realize how toxic and vile the chemicals they pump into cancer patients are? I think drinking high test gasoline would be more pleasant. Here’s a tribute to my dear Skippy for anyone who cares, 7 minutes long and rather boring, but it was put together by geniuses and I’ve found geniuses are generally very boring people:
    http://videocast.nih.gov/Summary.asp?File=15062#

    Once again, doctors and scientists should be the ones making the decisions about what patients need and what’s best for them. Not politicians with a political agenda, not laymen who’ve been fed a line of government propaganda, not religionists who believe in a particular version of the Big Fairy Tale, not growers or purveyors of whatever remedy they think will work, not even the voters should be making this decisions. I have no clue why people with no medical training think they should be making medical decisions. Oh I forgot, someone might sneak in and ‘get high’. Gawd forbid. Really what this squabble is ‘all about’ is a pathological, irrational fear that other people are getting high, and ‘getting away’ with it.

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  • denmark

    If memory serves me it was Steve DeAngelo at Harborside that first broke the CBD cannabis news. There were mixed emotions in the comments section, and rightly so.

    O.K. Fast Forward for a moment. Irvin Rosenfeld, the 300 marijuana cigarettes every 25 days from the government has had a few things to say about Sativex.
    “And so therefore Sativex is natural marijuana. It’s just in a sublingual spray. And I don’t think the sublingual spray is the best delivery system because some of it you end up swallowing which goes down to your liver whatever. But it’s still a big benefit a big move forward you know for medical cannabis and for the company. You know again it is a public company so I do believe that it can definitely, you know, further the company itself too.” (GW is the company he’s referring to).

    However, and on the same thought with Irvin is the Patients Out of Time people who said in the same interview:
    Ms. Mary Lynn Mathre: “It seems like a lot of the Sativa strains tend to have more of an ‘up’ effect, whereas a lot of the Indica is more of a ‘down’ effect, settling things down. But I think the real important thing is… the drug warriors what to keep claiming about how strong and potent Cannabis is. Over the years, people have tried to put more and more TH… you know, get a higher THC content and what we’re finding is, it’s other cannabinoid in the plant are just as effective, or more effective for certain therapeutic results, than the THC.

    The other thing about Cannabidiol specifically, the CBD in Cannabis is that it helps modulate the ‘high’ effects of the THC. So when patients use Cannabis, say it is fifteen percent THC but it’s got a CBD content to it. That CBD will help balance out the effects; modulate. Kind of decrease the ‘high’ from the THC so patients don’t get that ‘real high’”.

    Then this comment from Al Byrne (Patients out of time)
    “When we get to the recreational issue, we don’t talk about that and frankly, recreational people can do what they want. But what we want is a product that medical professionals will accept as clean, doseable and they understand its effect, all it’s effect”.
    ——
    So we definitely have a divide. I’m not trying to smear these people, just want to share what information I retained. I do find it despicable and unforgivable if the medical mj people turn their back on the Legalization crowd. (just as I will not forgive LEO’s for their participation in Reefer Madness).

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  • Duncan

    You can’t have high THC high CBD cannabis. You get to choose, high CBD, low THC, vice versa, or moderate THC and CBD. Perhaps if we put some geniuses to work breeding it could happen then again it would be much simpler to grow some High THC plants, some high CBD plants, and make a blend. But frankly all indicators so far are that the medical properties are in the non-psychoactive cannabinoids except for the amelioration of cachexia.

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  • Duncan

    Oh BTW I think 5000 shares of GW Pharmaceutical will make you stinking, filthy rich within 10 years. That’s less than $9k at the current price. I’ve got my money where my mouth is too.

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  • claygooding

    My problem with G&W,a subsidiary of Bayer,is that they can apply for their medicine’s approval with the FDA for a cannabis based medicine,without using the government provided marijuana to make it with.
    Sine the ONDCP is supposed to stop any attempt to make a schedule 1 drug a medicine,why are they not stopping this and even having G&W in court for possession of a schedule 1 drug?
    And if FDA approves their medicine,will it still be schedule 1? Since Sativex is nothing more than hemp oil
    mixed with whatever carrier fluid they use,does this not make cannabis an accepted medicine by the FDA?

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  • Jared

    Great point, claygooding! It seems there’s a double standard for pharmaceutical companies and their money. And to those susceptible to the intrigue of cash, the promise of a variety of brand name and off-brand variations of marijuana-based medicines is HUGE.

    Just look at acetaminophen/paracetamol. It’s in nearly every analgesic preparation and half the time I look in my medicine cabinet, I still don’t know the difference between Tylenol and off-brand acetaminophen! By selling the same thing under a bunch of names, pharmaceuticals can make money quickly by blinding the consumer with a myriad of choices, but no matter what you choose, you’re getting basically the same thing. Imagine what they could do if they had the ability to throw some THC in there, some other CBDs, along with their filler trash. Now, I do believe in some medicines efficacy. But the overwhelming majority of treatments do more eventual harm than their immediate good: anti-anxiety and antidepressants? Shit, give me a joint, keep the pills.

    As more is learned about marijuana and selectively breeding for purposes of medical treatment, raising levels of certain chemicals within natural cannabis should become a farmer’s job — not a chemist’s. Imagine having a little plant for your arthritis , and a scrubby, tall plant for your depression at the state of our government. Mmmm, I can smell the future… it’s nice and skunky.

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  • Duncan

    clay, Bayer is not actually a subsidiary of Bayer they have a joint development agreement. This may really be nothing more than structuring to avoid risk but it is technically true.

    The drug schedules can be manipulated so that Sativex is legal and cannabis remains schedule 1. One need look no further than methamphetime, available under prescription as Desoxyn and on Schedule 2 (IIRC might be schedule 3) but street meth is schedule 1. I’d also point out that marinol is schedule 3 while cannabis is schedule 1, but I suppose a (lame) argument can be made that one is synthetic and one is natural and therefore the dual classification is appropriate. In the land behind the ONDCP looking glass there need be neither rhyme or reason behind a drugs scheduling. Your confusion is caused by employing logic and critical thinking in your analysis. There’s room for neither when prosecuting a drug war.

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  • AFAIK, while street meth has no safe, accepted medical use, cannabis indisputably does. Also, in rebuttal to the lame synthetic argument, schedule III Marinol is far more dangerous, with an exponentially smaller lethal dose.

    see: http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_chemistry.shtml

    “LD50 1270 mg/kg (male rats), 730 mg/kg (female rats) oral in sesame oil”

    versus

    “. . . estimated lethal human dose of intravenous dronabinol is 30 mg/kg (2100 mg/ 70 kg). Significant CNS symptoms in antiemetic studies followed oral doses of 0.4 mg/kg (28 mg/70 kg) of MARINOL® Capsules.”

    source:
    http://www.theodora.com/drugs/marinol_capsules_unimed.html
    - – -

    Free Marc Emery.

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  • Reader’s New Year will be better being aware of that!

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