Those who have seen the CNN documentary series “Weed” hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta are well aware of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD). Over the past several years, CBD has been shown to have many amazing medical benefits, including its ability to stop seizures for a lot of children who suffer from epilepsy and other ailments.
These discoveries – and the CNN documentary series – have set off a trend in some states of passing “CBD-only” laws instead of more robust medical marijuana laws. And across the pond, in the United Kingdom, CBD alone has just been recognized by the British government to have medicinal properties.
“We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are a medicine,” a spokesman for the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said. The MHRA found that CBD has a “restoring, correcting or modifying” effect on “physiological functions”.
As mentioned, CBD is just one of many compounds found in cannabis, and the government in the U.K. still considers whole-plant cannabis to have no medicinal value – much like our own Drug Enforcement Administration in the United States. Not only does the DEA refuse to classify cannabis as medicine, they have admitted to actively obstructing research into the issue.
The problem with recognizing only CBD as having medical value is that it ignores not only the many medical properties of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) but it also ignores what is known as the “Entourage Effect” of whole-plant cannabis.
“Here is the important point,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an article he wrote on the issue. “[Israeli researcher Raphael] Mechoulam, along with many others, said he believes all these components of the cannabis plant likely exert some therapeutic effect, more than any single compound alone.
“While science has not yet shown the exact role or mechanism for all these various compounds, evidence is mounting that these compounds work better together than in isolation: That is the ‘entourage effect.’”
The fear of activists and patients in the U.K., as well as in the U.S., is that the cannabis plant is going to be chopped up and only certain extracts will be made legal for medical purposes. Whole-plant cannabis will be regulated out of existence in terms of legally obtainable medicine.
“CBD-only legislation can be detrimental overall for the medical marijuana movement because it leaves behind too many patients,” Deputy Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, Michael Collins told the Huffington Post. “The majority of medical marijuana patients are not CBD patients. We want people to have access to CBD but not at the cost of getting access to broader medical marijuana.”
Events like this may be seen by some as progress for the medical cannabis movement, but they could easily lead down a road where most patients are left out in the cold when it comes to legally choosing their medicine.