Like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), preference is given to the medicalization of cannabis. Governmental international organizations “forget” that cannabis peaks are in themselves effective, useful and cheaper medicine for patients, yet they give priority to the pharmaceutical industry. Activists’ warnings are being realized that the pharmaceutical industry and related pharmacies will be taken over by medical cannabis.
Cannabis has an extremely rich history of use in healing and medicine, but in the 20th century it has largely declined. The scientific discovery of the endocannabinoid system was followed by a renewed interest of patients for this healing plant, which helps people to relieve a number of disease symptoms. In European countries, such as The Netherlands (2003), Switzerland (2011), the Czech Republic (2013) and Germany (2017) have already adopted legislation authorizing the use of cannabis under certain conditions. Currently, there are only four pharmaceutical products with individual canninoids approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the European Union market. Also, in our country, several pharmaceutical products containing one or both main cannabinoids (THC and CBD) were approved for medical use. However, synthetic drugs are not often used, as patients find it difficult to achieve the desired benefits. Medical paper hemp should also be approved on paper, which, according to the definition of the special working group of the Medical Chamber, is an integral product from the flowers of the plant with the required pharmaceutical standards, but it is not available in Slovenian pharmacies. However, the Slovenian market is flooded with cannabis in food supplements on the basis of the non-pecific CBD, which is widely taken for medical purposes.
Unjustifiably demonized medicinal plant
Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L) is one to six meters high plant, the most recognizable part of which is characterized by palm-divided leaves from five to nine individual towels with a jagged leafy edge. Blooms from July to September. In particular, the glands of stem leaves and flowers on unspoiled female plants are rich in resin, which also contains psychoactive cannabinoids. There are over one thousand substances in the plant, of which more than 140 cannabinoids, which also have healing properties. Many of these substances are found exclusively in cannabis, and for the last 90 years, due to the international ban system, most have been inaccessible.
The slang name of marijuana has been established in the 1930s with the aim of intimidation and without any serious analysis of the risks and benefits to human health and society. At that time, cannabis agents were not yet known, and aspirin and intravenous opiates appeared on the market, which, due to the variability of plant material, showed a significant proportion of the indications. As part of the economic and political background, one should mention the dominance of the production of paper from wood and the discovery of nylon fibers in 1935, which pushed cannabis as an industrial raw material. The year 1937 was a breakthrough when the law on marijuana taxation entered into force in the United States, despite the opposition of the American Medical Association. In 1942, cannabis was removed from the American pharmacopoeia, which in practice meant the end of its use in medicine elsewhere in the world.
The stigmatization of cannabis was also contributed by the long-lasting negative media-political campaign that linked smoking with cannabis immigrants from Mexico, crime, jazz and other music, and hippie movements. The milestones are also the years of 1961 and 1971, when the United Nations adopted a convention that put cannabis in a group of the most dangerous substances that do not have medical value. Such a classification of cannabis in the UN system represents a historical anomaly, which they are only studying today and trying to eliminate, but has become a fixed and indispensable subject of political games between the liberal and conservative world.
Endocabinoid system and other discoveries
Nevertheless, some important scientific discoveries occurred during the Prohibition era. Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulan and colleagues in 1963 found the structure of cannabidiol (CBD), and a year later he isolated psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Then, in the 1990s, a revolutionary discovery of the unique endocannabinoid signal system was shared by humans with all vertebrates.
Scientists have also explained the causes of relative safety resulting from the synergistic activity of the active substances, and in particular from the fact that in the brain region that controls respiratory and cardiovascular functions, very few receptors react to cannabinoids. It was calculated that the fatal outcome in acute exposures is more than a hundred times lower than in alcohol and ten times lower than for nicotine, or that in a 70 kg heavyweight a 50% chance of dying after taking one ton of cannabis with a content of 0.2% THC – Yeah.
Today it is also known that hemp is significantly safer than aspirin, some anti-inflammatory and opioid medicines. Therefore, in spite of international legal barriers, individual countries have relaunched the weighting of past exaggerations and the assessment of real risks and the dominant benefits of this plant and individual cannabinoids for individuals, communities and economies, and began to update regulations in this area.
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