Current Challenges in Cannabis-Based Medicine

In the field of cannabis research and cannabinoid science, few researchers have made as large an impact as Dr. Ethan Russo. Russo has written field-defining papers about standardizing cannabis, pain management with cannabinoids, and the proposed synergy of cannabinoids. Russo’s insights range from medical and chemical hurdles of the field to political and government challenges inherent in bringing these medicines to market. Russo also played a key role as research director at GW Pharmaceuticals for over a decade. GW Pharmaceuticals created Sativex, an oral spray consisting of THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio, that remains one of the only cannabis-based pharmaceutical products available in most countries. As a past president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and past Chairman of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines, he continues to write and travel world-wide to discuss the field. In 2016, Russo released a report titled, “Current Therapeutic Cannabis Controversies and Clinical Trial Design Issues", intended to serve as a collection of recommendations regarding the future of the field. In the report, Russo breaks down many of the issues that have hampered cannabis and cannabinoid-based medicines’ acceptance into Western medicine. Due to the thoughtful writing and easy-to-read nature of the report, we would encourage anyone interested in learning more to take a look at this paper. However, for the sake of convenience, we have summarized the most important topics below: Cannabis Testing Is Largely Inaccurate Russo argues that due to past and current legal constraints, many of the labs that test…

Replacing Prescription Drugs with Cannabis

One of the recurring themes in Cornerstone Blog articles is the idea that cannabis can achieve some of the results of pharmaceutical drugs with less risk to health and financial cost. Opioids, for instance, are often seen as the last line of defense in treating pain, since they represent the strongest chemical family of pain-killers known to medicine. However, opioids are also incredibly addictive. Even legally prescribed opioids, in fact, often lead to long-term drug addiction. This development occurs so often in fact, that doctors are required a special license (in addition to their medical license) to administer them. As we’ve explored in numerous articles, cannabis and specifically CBD can reduce perception of pain, especially if it is caused by swelling and inflammation. It would be foolish to think that cannabis could entirely replace all painkillers, of course, and certainly there are cases where short-term effect outweighs long-term risk of addiction, as in the case of terminally ill patients. However, the idea being put forth by the scientific and medical community is that if a significant portion of the pain is reduced, the corresponding amount of necessary opioid could also be significantly reduced. The same line of reasoning could be used for a variety of other treatment indications beyond pain, such as anxiety and depression, for instance. As readers know, anti-depressants can occasionally have unintended side-effects and increase suicidal ideation. Some anti-depressants can also reduce energy that is vital to personality expression, which is why many patients do not comply…