Cannabis has been used for medical purposes as far back as 4,000 BCE in China. Further evidence indicates it was used medicinally in various locations such as Greece, China, India, Egypt and the Middle East.
Medical Cannabis v Recreational Marijuana
Cannabis for medical purposes is characterised by the ability to produce a preparation that can contain different types of compounds from a cannabis plant as a medicine including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or a combination of both.
When used in a medicinal or research setting the preparations are more commonly referred to as cannabis while in a recreational setting is more widely known as marijuana.
Contrary to popular belief, not all cannabis types are psychoactive, or produce a “high” sensation.
CBD-rich cannabis is known to be more useful in certain situations, with no psychoactive side effects.
THC can also have a medical benefit as well, particularly for patients undergoing palliative care or for those who suffer from chronic pain.
Recreational marijuana on the other hand does tend to be consumed with little or no knowledge of the levels of THC and is used without proper protocols including: supply, dosage, or supervision and its use is outside the law in most jurisdictions.
Cannabis has been used to treat many conditions including pain, anxiety, jaundice, depression, insomnia, appetite loss, migraines, inflammation and asthma.
Australia is a signatory to a number of instruments including the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1972, and the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988.
However, these do not prevent signatories from making cannabis (and other drugs) available for medical and scientific purposes.
Curus Medical aims to provide a solution to regulators with a framework that incorporates legal supply under a controlled system such as existing in a number of overseas countries.
To date, Sativex, a patented cannabinoid mouth spray, has been included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for the treatment of muscle spasticity related to multiple sclerosis. However, the cost and effectiveness is a factor driving alternatives. In fact, the high costs of pharmaceutical products are beyond the scope of many but the wealthiest of patients in a number of countries. Curus Medical aims to change the paradigm.
Call to Action
Growing Public Support for Legalisation
Over the last year, calls for legalisation from patients with severe and chronic pain as well as terminal illnesses and conditions and those not receiving relief from conventional medicines (including many constituents) are reaching a crescendo that politicians are heeding.
This momentum stems from success of medicinal cannabis in Australia, stimulated partly by case reports detailing successful treatment of individual patients, as well as medicinal cannabis programs in several countries. The growing public support for legalising cannabis for medical use stems from:
- An increasing number of case studies in Australia reporting the successful use of medicinal cannabis to treat patients.
- The ever increasing number of countries that are legalising cannabis for medical use.
Growing Number of Patients using Medicinal Cannabis
In Australia, many patients already use cannabis to treat a range of conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Persistent nausea
- Spinal cord injury
- Spasms (spasticity)
- ME (chronic fatigue)
- Multiple sclerosis
- Other neurological disorder
There was a high level of satisfaction among sampled patients to date with the effects of cannabis in relation to the condition or symptom for which it was being used.
Over 60% of respondents reported reducing or ceasing use of other medication after starting to use cannabis. This finding is consistent with international surveys, which also reveal high rates of patient satisfaction.
Surveys have been considered evidence of good toleration of medical cannabis among many patients and are consistent with research case study results by Curus Medical.
Growing Political Support for Legalisation
A NSW Working Party on the use of cannabis for medical purposes investigated the issues during 1999-2001. It recommended:
- More medical research into cannabis products;
- A compassionate medicinal cannabis scheme for appropriate patients, and;
- A trial of exemption from prosecution for growing, possessing, or using cannabis for medical purposes.
In 2013, the NSW Parliament expressed in-principle support of the NSW government for the expanded use of medicinal cannabis for appropriate patient groups, further clinical trials, and ensuring the affordability of pharmaceutical cannabinoids.
Medicinal cannabis is currently legal or decriminalized in the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Possession of (small amounts of) cannabis is generally tolerated or not penalized in Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Italy, and Switzerland. Many South and Central American Countries are working toward complete legalisation of cannabis as a means to reduce crime and alleviate suffering for terminally ill patients.
Canada changed its medical cannabis landscape in 2014 so that patients will buy supplies from licensed producers. In the Netherlands, medicinal cannabis was made available for patients with serious illnesses in 2003.
In the U.S.A., 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalised or decriminalised medicinal cannabis. States in the U.S. have utilised a range of different schemes for exemptions from prosecution and for supply.
In Israel, patients may receive licenses to grow their own supply under strict conditions, and cannabis produced by other licensed growers is distributed centrally.
Therapeutic Cannabis Vs Medical Marijuana
Is there a difference between medical cannabis and medical marijuana? No, not really. The general population tends to refer to cannabis as marijuana, but those involved in the research and medical use of it tend to refer to it as cannabis because that’s its scientific name and because marijuana is associated with the recreational use. (It’s also sometimes referred to as medicinal hemp oil.)