Medical Marijuana without the high? What a drag

marijuana4An Israeli firm, Tikun Olam, spent three years and millions of dollars developing a marijuana strain that is “highless.”  Seriously, what a drag.

Researchers say this marijuana strain—Avidekel they call it—can be used to ease the symptoms of some illnesses without getting patients high. (Can you imagine the informal trail amongst the growers?  Nope, I ‘m not feeling anything.  Good!)

Some may ask, “Why spend millions of dollars developing something that’s already a proven therapy?”  Tikun Olam’s head of development Zack Klein says, “Sometimes the high is not always what they [patients] need.  Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect.  For some of the people it’s not even pleasant.”  Personally, I can relate to this argument—some medicinal strains are very potent and can leave me disoriented for hours when I’d rather be able to function normally or focus on work but still get some pain relief.

The “highless” marijuana strain is able to work it’s magic—or lack-thereof—because it contains very low amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive substance in cannabis.  Conversely, it has very high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid that is believed to give marijuana many of its palliative properties.  Klein said their marijuana strain contains 15.8 percent CBD and only traces of THC—possibly lower than one percent.

In Israel, medicinal use of marijuana was first permitted in 1993, and today it is used to treat more than 9,000 people suffering from diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and post traumatic stress disorder, according to Israel’s health ministry.

Other drug companies have recently shown interest in marketing cannabis as a medicine.  In the U.K., GW Pharmaceuticals recently began selling a marijuana mouth spray, and is currently seeking FDA approval so in can enter the U.S. market.

Honestly, I’m on the fence about this.  It’s a plus that the main stream medical marketplace is starting to become more accepting of cannabis treatments, but I can imagine the consumers would bear the brunt of the cost of Big Pharma’s expensive R&D and marketing.  What do you guys think?


Posted on July 5, 2012, in marijuana and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. From the research I have done I would rather no pharmaceutical company be granted authority to market a cannabis drug. Patients in states that permit are able to grow their own medicine without paying for the lab coats and marketing. The current drugs in trials now have a specific blend that they have come up with. What is important to remember about cannabis is that it is not a one size fits all formula. What works for one may not for another and what works for cancer will not work for another illness. The companies are out for money not to save people. If the spray is allowed on the market many feel that it will ruin any chances of legalization we have. Right now patients are able to obtain their cannabis at a reasonable rate something that can not be said for pharmaceuticals. The other problem when handing over control to those companies is lack of oversight from the patient. We have to rely on the company to actually produce a safe product. It is great that cannabis genetic research has really taken off. For too long THC was focused on but with the mapping of the plant we have discovered so much more. We need that to continue so that we can breed better strains to address illnesses better. We have come a long way since the days of “hippies smoking joints” to now include legitimate scientific proof and safe medical ways to use cannabis that is far beyond smoke.

  2. Very excellent points! The reason that I was on the fence was because of these reasons exactly: big pharma stands to gain extravagantly from cannabinoids. The only good thing is it means the science is coming around to trump the social stigma about weed–although I never considered what you said about the exact opposite situation–that entering the legal market would kill the chances for legalization.of cannabis. I feel much more enlightened and slightly ashamed of my ignorance.

    Finally, yes, when all of the cannabinoids are finally studied (or even identified) it will be a brave new world for medicine. Thank you for your post. I believe I learned much more than when I simply reported of the spray. I live in Virginia and want to try medicinal marijuana for my chronic pain conditions so badly. So frustrated. Sometimes I think the vast majority of people are crazy vis-à-vis the facts as people suffer. Thanks again!

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