The words “cannabis” and “marijuana” are often used interchangeably,.
“Cannabis product” refers to all products derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa.
The are about 540 different chemical substances in a cannabis plant.
“Marijuana” refers to parts or products that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the mind altering chemical in a cannabis plant. Some cannabis plants contain very little THC and are considered “industrial hemp.”
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a group of substances found in cannabis plants. The main cannabinoids are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). Besides THC and CBD, more than 100 other cannabinoids have been identified.
The FDA has not approved the cannabis plant for any medical use but several drugs that contain individual cannabinoids have been approved.
Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD derived from cannabis, was approved for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome or Dravet syndrome, two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
Marinol and Syndros, which contain dronabinol (synthetic THC), and Cesamet, which contains nabilone (a synthetic substance similar to THC), are approved by the FDA. Dronabinol and nabilone are used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.
Dronabinol is also used to treat loss of appetite and weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS.
Is it legal for dietary supplements or foods to contain THC or CBD?
Products containing THC or CBD cannot be sold legally as dietary supplements. Foods to which THC or CBD has been added cannot be sold legally in interstate commerce. Whether they can be sold legally within a state depends on that individual state’s laws and regulations.
Are cannabis chemical helpful in treating health conditions?
Drugs using cannabis constituents may be helpful in treating certain rare forms of epilepsy, nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and loss of appetite and weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS. In addition, some evidence suggests modest benefits of cannabis or cannabinoids for chronic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms. Research on cannabis or cannabinoids for other conditions is in its early stages.
The following are being researched.
- Helping To Decrease Opioid Use
- HIV/AIDS Symptoms
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Movement Disorders Due to Tourette Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Nausea and Vomiting Related to Cancer Chemotherapy
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep Problems
Before the FDA approved Epidiolex (a purified CBD product) as a drug, studies were done to evaluate its effectiveness and safety. Some participants in these studies had side effects (mostly diarrhea or sleepiness), and some developed abnormalities on tests of liver function. In some instances, study participants had to discontinue Epidiolex because of liver problems. Epidiolex also interacted with some of the other drugs these people were taking.
Research Funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Several NCCIH-funded studies are investigating the potential pain-relieving properties and mechanisms of action of substances in cannabis, including minor cannabinoids (those other than THC) and terpenes (substances in cannabis that give the plant its strain-specific properties such as aroma and taste). The goal of these studies is to strengthen the evidence regarding cannabis components and whether they have potential roles in pain management.