Most growers give little thought to the roots of cannabis plants beyond ensuring that they are healthy and supplied with water, nutrients, oxygen and drainage—before discarding them at harvest time. But the roots have been used in folk medicine for millennia, and contain several compounds that may be of medicinal value.
Besides his wonderful story about the Green Prisoners Release Amsterdam and the Cannabis College (see part 1), Henk Poncin recently had his first personal experience with the medicinal benefits of cannabis. He is now using cannabis tea as a successful painkiller after undergoing major surgery, instead of a bag full of pharmaceutical pain killers.
Cannabis preparations have been repeatedly shown to alleviate the symptoms of chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and the endocannabinoid system appears to play an important role in the regulation of various key processes involved in inflammation. Imbalance of the EC system may even be a major underlying cause.
The association between cannabis use and poor memory is age-old, and is so prevalent that it has been adopted as part of the standard stereotyping of cannabis users. Various studies have also indicated a connection—but could cannabis also help to improve memory in certain circumstances, such as in cases of brain injury.
Fibromyalgia is one of those disorders with an unknown cause but highly incapacitating symptoms. It is precisely because its etiopathogenesis (cause) is not known, plus the lack of specific effective treatment, that it has taken the medical community so long to recognise it as an illness. An observational study carried out in Barcelona was published recently, in which the perceived benefits of self-medication with cannabis were evaluated in a group of women with this condition.
Although there are a number of medical conditions for which the therapeutic properties of cannabis and its by-products are now unquestionable, there continue to be disorders or pathologies for which its benefits are not quite as clear. Similarly, even though for some psychiatric pathologies the risks associated with the use of cannabis are fairly well defined, for others, the risks are relatively unknown.
Cannabis use has been implicated in several cases of cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or stroke, and may also exacerbate cardiovascular ill-health that can lead to stroke, in susceptible individuals. However, there is also strong evidence that there may be a potential for cannabinoid therapies to assist in post-stroke recovery.
Since the 1970s, the scientific community - prompted by frequent reports from patients opting for self-medication - has been able to focus its research on cannabinoids for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The number of studies conducted on the subject continues to be relatively low, despite recent renewed efforts in this direction owing to the frequency of cases reported by patients suffering from the disease.
The French have relatively harsh drug laws compared with neighbouring European countries. However, in recent years attention has been paid to the successful harm reduction policies many of these neighbours are implementing, and various reforms have been made. In January 2014, France legislated to allow medical cannabis.
Algeria is a major transit point for drugs, particularly hashish produced in Morocco and destined for Europe. It is not a major producer or consumer of illicit drugs, although it appears that both production and consumption is on the increase. As well as hashish arriving from Morocco, increasing amounts of cannabis (and cocaine from South America) are trafficked into Algeria from West Africa. The bulk of the contraband leaving Algeria is destined to travel by sea to Europe, although a small proportion is also smuggled overland to Middle Eastern destinations.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history associated with cannabis use, and large swathes of the population continue to use cannabis in the traditional manner. However, the present regime has been severely clamping down on drug trafficking in recent years, in response to an increase in heroin and opium addiction rates.
GrassRoots: The Cannabis Revolution is a feature-length documentary that explores the world of medical cannabis consumers and activists. Spanning The USA, The Netherlands, Spain, USA and the UK; the new film from Dale Beaumont-Smith, director of 'vegas2venice', follows the trials and tribulations of a sub-culture trying to change the current cannabis laws in the United Kingdom.
Terpenoids and terpenes are aromatic compounds that are found in thousands of plant species, and are responsible for the various flavours and fragrances of cannabis. We have known about their presence in cannabis for decades, but it is only recently that awareness of their potential therapeutic properties has begun to expand.
In Part I, we looked at the many horrific cases of children being removed from family homes due to parents’ cannabis use. Here, we will discuss another side of the battle for legal cannabis that is affecting children in the USA—sick children, who could benefit from medical cannabis, are legally prevented from doing so.
Despite—or perhaps due to—the massive gains made over the last few years in establishing a legal status for cannabis in the USA, the backlash continues. Worryingly, one form the backlash is taking is among the most emotionally devastating possible for all concerned—the removal of children from their homes.
Sativex by GW Pharmaceuticals is the first cannabis-based medicine to be fully approved and brought to market in any country, and is now available in 22 countries worldwide. Its steady march through Europe has been accompanied by considerable media attention, and numerous challenges have been faced and overcome.
Greece has long been a cultural bridging point connecting Europe to Asia and Africa, and shares many traditional practices more often associated with North African and Arab culture. Greece has a long history of cannabis cultivation, and although present drug laws are strict, some degree of liberalisation is currently underway.
Researchers in Israel performed a clinical trial of the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis on patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. On the 21 patients suffering from severe symptoms and who did not respond to other treatments (including steroids), 11 were given cannabis twice daily while the other received a placebo. After 8 weeks of treatment with cannabis 5 of them showed complete remission of the symptoms while clinical response was measured in 90% of cases.
The Republic of Cameroon is a relatively stable and successful Central African nation, with good roads and infrastructure. However, a substantial proportion of its rural population depends on subsistence agriculture. As a result, cannabis appeals greatly to poor farmers as it commands a high price and can be transported with ease.