Medicinal Cannabis

What is medicinal cannabis?

Medicinal cannabis isn’t really different from recreational cannabis. The main difference is that it has been tagged for medical use – to treat health conditions. In certain cases, the difference is clearer – some medicinal cannabis products are extracted chemicals from the marijuana plant.

The cannabis plant contains over 100 cannabinoids, the chemicals responsible for pretty much whatever effect cannabis has on a person. For recreational users, there is a desire for that euphoric feeling commonly referred to as a “high”. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid responsible for those psychoactive effects.

Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, lacks psychoactive effects. It also has several medicinal effects, making it the more sought out cannabinoid by the medical community. That’s not to say THC doesn’t have medicinal effects – it does, plenty – but its psychoactive effects have caused it to be labeled as the more dangerous substance in the cannabis plant.

As a result, most medicinal cannabis products that are made fro chemicals in the cannabis plant are focused on CBD. Today, with medicinal cannabis legal in several parts of the world, including Australia, there are some lab-created medicinal cannabis drugs made from those cannabis chemicals.

What are the medicinal cannabis products available in Australia

Australia legalised medicinal cannabis in 2016. This opened the door for many patients who found relief in cannabis use. Today, you can purchase cannabis if your doctor is authorized to prescribe it, and does so following the rules set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The TGA has been approving more and more medical cannabis prescriptions
Getting a prescription for medicinal cannabis in Australia can be difficult, but the number of prescriptions have continued to increase on a monthly basis. src

Here are the medicinal cannabis options in Australia:

  • Cannabis flower:
    You can purchase marijuana from dispensaries if you can obtain a prescription.
  • CBD oils: 
    You can also purchase CBD oils with a prescription.
  • Sativex:
    plant based cannabis drug. It is made of equal parts THC and CBD concentrations, and is sprayed under the tongue.
  • Marinol:
    A synthetic form of THC.
  • Syndrol:
    Also a synthetic form of THC, administered in droplets.

Types of medicinal cannabis

The medicinal cannabis drugs listed above can be classified into different categories:

  • Cannabis leaf, plant, or flower:
    These are the common marijuana crops and buds, the cannabis flowers that are typically smoked or ingested as edibles.
  • Cannabis oils:
    Medicinal cannabis oils can be CBD, THC, or both. These mostly refer to natural cannabis plant-based extracts with carrier oils like coconut oil. They are mostly extracted from hemp plants.
  • Pharmaceutical cannabis plant drugs (Nabiximols):
    These are made from cannabis plant extracts – the chemicals or cannabinoids, typically equal parts of THC and CBD but might include other cannabinoids and chemicals. Sativex is an example.
  • Synthetic THC (Dronabinol and Nabilone):
    These are artificial, synthetic THC extracts. Marinol and syndros are examples.

Side effects of using medicinal cannabis

The side effects of using medicinal cannabis depends on the types you use. Most cannabis users rely on natural cannabis flower, but some avoid it because of the psychoactive effects. Here’s a quick summary of some side effects you might experience using medicinal cannabis:

  • Cannabis flower: 
    Many who use cannabis flower as a treatment might smoke it. This method of consumption may cause respiratory illnesses like coughing or shortness of breath. Some also consider the psychoactive effects of cannabis flower use (from THC) to be a side effect. Others include dizziness, drowsiness, lack of concentration, and loss of memory.
  • Cannabis oil: 
    CBD oils may cause some diarrhea, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness. There are also some reported cases of anxiety, changes in appetite and mood swings.
  • Nabiximols: 
    Pharmaceutical medicinal cannabis drugs pose more serious side effects. In addition to the side effects of cannabis flowers and oils, you might experience abdominal pain, increased blood pressure, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, trouble urinating, soreness in the mouth, and lots more
  • Synthetic THC: 
    These drugs also have more exaggerated side effects. You might feel an exaggerated sense of well being, euphoria, dizziness, trouble concentrating, depression, lack of coordination, insomnia, anxiety, and more.

Final words

Medicinal cannabis has been the subject of more research in recent years. With each study, the effects of the plant and its many chemicals are uncovered. For the most part, we’re aware that medicinal cannabis can serve as a treatment for several health conditions, including chronic pain and epileptic seizures. Knowing which kinds of medicinal cannabis to use is a topic best discussed with your doctor.

Published by Neil

Neil believes Cannabis has medical benefits and should be prescribed by a Doctor. This site aims to provide accurate information on the science and legality of Cannabis so you can make informed decisions.

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