In a recent blog NC NORML endorsed CBD legislation because epileptic children are finding useful and non-toxic medicine. They go to the front of the line when it comes to incrementally introducing cannabis legislation. We’ll take what we can get, but the push for cannabis legalization should not stop there for several reasons.
Several states are jumping on the CBD-only bandwagon, perhaps most notably North Carolina’s conservative Southern neighbor, Georgia – where a limited medical marijuana bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 171-4. Recently a North Carolina Republican representative publicly voiced support medical marijuana for epileptic children.
This momentum is due in large part to CNN’s one hour documentary by Dr. Sanjay Gupta exposing the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Special attention was paid to the therapeutic effects of a particular strain of marijuana that is high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC (the psychoactive component in marijuana). There is now a surge of attention in the scientific community being paid to the anecdotal reports of CBD’s benefits to epileptic children. Even the FDA has approved a CBD-based drug for epileptic applications.
But North Carolinian’s must ask if abandoning the whole plant for a single compound (even one as valuable as CBD) is a worthwhile sacrifice to make. The families of epileptic children would say yes. The millions of other patients and NC NORML say no, and here’s why…
CBD in isolation has been studied far less than the entire plant. There have been no controlled clinical studies published for its effects on humans with epilepsy. While over 1000 papers are available that focus on CBD’s effects the vast majority of the research was limited to animals or petri-dishes. Some human CBD trials have been completed, however they all asses the compound’s safety, not its effectiveness.
By comparison, over 20,000 studies document the safety and therapeutic value of either whole plant marijuana or THC. Consider that about a third of the pharmaceuticals on the market won FDA approval with one clinical trial. A 2012 University of California evaluation of smoking the natural flowers of the marijuana plant by hundreds of patients concluded that “recent clinical trials with smoked and vaporized marijuana, as well as other botanical extracts, indicate the likelihood that the cannabinoids can be useful in the management of neuropathic pain, spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, and possibly other indications…Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”
The entire marijuana plant is safe and useful.
Further, NC NORML often receives phone calls from people claiming that the whole natural plant is far more effective and preferable than the synthetic derivative, Marinol, prescribed by their doctor. Scientific research backs up their individual reports. The British Journal of Pharmacology lists several studies that point to a new term in the marijuana community referred to as the “entourage effect”. The review finds that THC, CBD and dozens or hundreds of other naturally occurring compounds work together to produce a more effective medicine than any single chemical by itself. Dr. Sanjay Gupta concluded from his own research “just taking CBD out and using it alone doesn’t seem to work as well as when it is with all the other compounds.”
Dr. Gupta also created this helpful video infographic describing the entourage effect.
It is painfully clear that any political opposition to allowing patients to have access to full the plant is not based on unanswered questions about marijuana’s safety or medicinal value. People should not be prevented from having safe, legal and controlled access to the benefits of the entire plant.
The politics of North Carolina is currently conservative and hesitant to change its stance on what has traditionally been looked upon as a threat to family values. However the voting population is largely in support of medicinal uses of marijuana across the state and nationwide, so siding with marijuana legislation is no longer political suicide.
Full legalization is necessary, and CBD-only legislation does not go nearly far enough because
(1) the entire marijuana plant has been studied far more than many pharmaceuticals that currently have FDA approval – its safety and value are thoroughly documented;
(2) all the compounds in the plant work together more effectively than any one isolated chemical;
(3) limiting marijuana’s availability unmercifully leaves large patient demographics untreated; and
(4) the remaining illegality unnecessarily incarcerates otherwise law abiding citizens for possessing non-toxic and effective medicine.
While NORML of North Carolina sees CBD-only legislation as an incremental step towards full legalization, it is imperative that supporters continue to call their representatives to explain the reasons why the entire plant should be available to every adult and family today.
If you do not agree with the laws, NC NORML asks that you do your part to change them.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” ~Mahatma Gandhi