Medical Cannabis

Clinical studies and research on medical cannabis are essential for helping doctors find new and improved methods for health and chronic condition care. The mandate of the studies is to answer scientific questions, better understand drug interactions and define dosage measurements for treating each specific condition with cannabis. Just as importantly we need research on why cannabis shows great promise for improving life threatening conditions like cancer, epilepsy and PTSD. These studies are usually the final step in the process of developing new drugs and other means to fight disease. My Compassion’s commitment to expanding research on medical cannabis is unwavering. As a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization My Compassion is in the perfect position to take part in the upcoming grants for the research of medical cannabis.

The effects of this drug are produced by the active chemical found in cannabis–THC (delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol). The use of medical cannabis is focused on applying the beneficial effects of this drug to a patient in an effort to improve the patient’s overall quality of life. The beneficial use of medical cannabis continues to be highly contested–as of 2015, only the District of Columbia and 23 states have enacted laws to protect the rights of a patient to use medical cannabis.

There is finally considerable interest in the possible therapeutic uses of marijuana (see our fact sheet, “Is Marijuana Medicine?”) by the Federal Government. As of January 31, 2014, there were 28 active grants related to this topic, funded by NIDA, in 6 different disease categories (see table, below). Therapeutic research is defined here as projects that include (as at least one of their specific aims) investigation of the potential medical benefit of the marijuana plant (Cannabis sativa) or its constituent cannabinoid chemicals in human or animal models of disease.

Most of these research projects are examining the medical benefits of individual cannabinoid chemicals derived from or related to those in the marijuana plant, not the plant itself, although a few use unprocessed plant material. Individual cannabinoid chemicals may be isolated and purified from the marijuana plant or synthesized in the laboratory, or they may be naturally occurring (endogenous) cannabinoids found in the body and modified using other, non-cannabinoid chemicals.

Specifically, cannabinoids are classified here as:

  1. Plant – plant leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds collected from the Cannabis sativa plant and ingested in some form (cigarettes, vapor); also known as phytocannabinoids.
  2. Endogenous – cannabinoids made by the body: N-arachidonoylethanolamine or anandamide (AE) or 2-arachidonoylglycerol ( 2-AG). AE and 2-AG activity is manipulated by inhibiting their corresponding hydrolases FAAH or MAGL, preventing their degradation.
  3. Purified – naturally occurring cannabinoids purified from plant sources: Cannabidiol (CBD), D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Sativex (mixture of THC and CBD).
  4. Synthetic –cannabinoids synthesized in a laboratory: CB1 agonists (CPP-55, ACPA), CB2 agonists (JWH-133, NMP7, AM1241), CB1/CB2 nonselective agonist (CP55,940), Ajulemic Acid (AJA), Nabilone, Dronabinol, and several other proprietary chemicals in development as potential cannabinoid agonists and antagonists for therapeutic use.

In the table, projects are divided into six disease categories:autoimmune diseases, inflammation, pain, psychiatric disorders, seizures, and substance use disorders (SUDs). Clicking on individual project titles leads to their descriptions in NIH RePorter. Also listed are the cannabinoid substances being examined and, except in cases when the whole plant was used, whether the studied chemicals are purified from the plant, synthetic, or endogenous; and whether the project uses human or animal subjects.