Medical marijuana may seem like a misnomer to some, but to those with ailments that lend themselves to its uses, it’s perfectly named. Patients are delighted by the prospect of being able to walk into a dispensary and legally get a medication that can help them, without damaging the liver or kidneys with over-the-counter meds. Pain can be mitigated without the need for opioids, which can be addictive and potentially lethal.
There are hundreds of useful compounds in cannabis. The psychotropic ingredient, THC, tends to get the most attention, but the compound best known for medical use is CBD (Cannabidiol). The “entourage effect” describes how these compounds work much better together as a team, rather than isolated into discrete substances: CBD tends to work a bit better in combination with THC, as THC “kicks in the door.” It still works by itself, but even a small amount of THC makes CBD more efficacious.
CBD has been found to be helpful in treating autism, anxiety, depression, psychosis, insomnia, inflammation, pain and cancer, just to name a few. (Seizures, cancer, arthritis and separation anxiety are also maladies that can also affect our pet pals, and there are CBD products especially created for them, too!) Although researching cannabis is extremely problematic here in the U.S. due to its continued Schedule 1 status, excellent investigations into the subject have been done in Israel, ground zero for medical cannabis research. They even have a medical cannabis unit in their ministry of health, one of only three countries to have such a thing—the others are Canada and the Netherlands. Hebrew University’s Raphael Mechoulam, a medical cannabis research pioneer, co-discovered the endocannabinoid system, the largest receptor system in the body. Cannabinoid compounds may be the key that fits the lock in a myriad of diseases, including muscular dystrophy, diabetes, cancer and schizophrenia. Mechoulam also had success in using CBD to treat PTSD in veterans; the United States began its first medical study on the matter in Arizona a few months ago.
One of the best known CBD products is the oil known as Charlotte’s Web. Namesake Charlotte Figi suffered from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy, since she was 3 months old; her parents tried medical marijuana as a last resort, and she went from having 300 seizures a week to about one. The Charlotte’s Web specialized high-CBD cannabis strain and the oil derived from it were developed by the Stanley Brothers and their Realm of Caring organization. And through Realm of Caring, it’s possible to get hemp-based Charlotte’s Web in all 50 states, as it contains no THC.
Oasis Medical Cannabis manager Kama Star has a few favorite CBD items. One is the CBD transdermal patch from Mary’s Nutritionals, which, once applied, meters out CBD for eight hours. She is also a fan of the topicals from Apothecanna: From pain relief creams, to “sexytime” potions, they have an extremely loyal following at the dispensary. Budtender Royann Cole’s favorite CBD flower strain is Shiskaquine, which she says is very helpful for falling asleep, and carries less than 1 percent THC to 12 percent CBD. One of her other favorites is the 1:1 Synergy Mints by Dixie, which have 5 mg each of CBD and THC. Star also points out that CBD tincture can also a good thing to keep around the house in case someone happens to overindulge. A bit of tincture under the tongue will mitigate the expression of the THC and bring you back to earth. With cannabis being legal now, it might be a good idea to keep some around, as a safety net.
Right now, most of these products are only available to people with an MMJ card but, once the public is allowed to visit dispensaries, more will discover how useful they can be.