What is Medical Marijuana?
Many people want to know, “what is medical marijuana”? Is it different from regular marijuana? What makes it medicinal? What are the active ingredients? Has any of this been proven? Is it safe? These are all valid questions that definitely need answering. We’ll start with the first one, “What is Medical Marijuana”?
In Canada, medical marijuana is the name given to marijuana, also known by it’s Latin name Cannabis, which has been grown by a Health Canada licensed producer to regulation standards for safety. All other marijuana is referred to as being from “the street” with no information about it’s origins, growing, or transportation methods which leaves it wide open for contamination and unknown strength of active ingredients. So the answer is “Yes”, it is different from regular marijuana because the source is known, the growing, harvesting, and shipping methods are all known and regulated and the concentration of active ingredients is also known.
This allows the marijuana to be used as medicine because it can be delivered with consistency and the characteristics of each strain can be matched to treat specific conditions, ailments, and symptoms. Consistency of strength and strain characteristics allows patients to consume predictable doses of medicine thus better treating their ailment.
In a general context, medicinal marijuana also known as medical cannabis, refers to cannabis when it is used to treat or relieve a symptom, ailment or condition rather than for recreational or spiritual purposes. Any cannabis which contains an effective amount of active cannabinoids (i.e. not industrial hemp) can be considered medicinal cannabis if it is used for that purpose.
Marijuana has been used as a medicine for thousands of years with evidence dating back to 2000 BC and many studies around the globe are showing a growing body of evidence for marijuana’s medicinal benefits from treating epilepsy, to multiple sclerosis, to cancer, to PTSD. Studies are on going and currently in clinical trial phase in Canada.
One of the most important ways to answer the question, “what is medical marijuana?”, is to talk about it’s active ingredients. The Active ingredients in marijuana are referred to as cannabinoids and act on the body’s endocannabinoid system. Humans and animals alike naturally synthesize endocannabinoids, chemical compounds that activate the same receptors as the cannabinoids found is marijuana. While cannabinoid receptors are primarily expressed in the brain and immune system, researchers have identified cannabinoid receptors in a variety of other places as well, including the peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, and gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Although the endocannabinoid system affects a wide variety of biological processes (such as appetite and sleep), experts believe that its overall function is to regulate homoeostasis. Homoeostasis is a key element in the biology of all living things and is best described as the ability to maintain stable internal conditions that are necessary for survival. Disease is simply a result of some aspect of failure in achieving homoeostasis, making the endocannabinoid system a unique target for medical applications.
Cannabis generally comes in three varieties Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis each with it’s own characteristics which differ by effect and growth characteristics. These varieties have been cross bred with each other to combine specific combinations of characteristics tailored to treat specific ailments.
We hope we have provided you with enough information to answer the question, “What is medical marijuana?” and encourage you to share this information with anyone else who might ask, “What is medical marijuana?”