Medicinal Cannabis Overview

What is medical cannabis?

The therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis have been informally recognised for decades.

Medicinal cannabis is becoming recognised worldwide as a natural and effective medicine to treat a growing number of conditions. Medicinal cannabis is a term used to describe the use of the cannabis plant and its constituent cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms of a range of medical conditions.

To date, the main active constituents of the cannabis plant that have proven medicinal properties are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Although there is some evidence of synergistic treatment effects from the combination of all the cannabinoids within cannabis, their indication for specific diagnoses remains largely scientifically unproven.

With the scientific evidence still evolving, there is an increasing use of CBD (cannabidiol) and medicinal cannabis in treating a wide range of ailments. The patient driven market will continue to expand as the evidence expands. Research into the effects of cannabinoids (and some other active compounds from cannabis) extends across a range of medical conditions.

The focus to date as largely been on whole spectrum cannabis extracts which include natural cannabinoids and active compounds from the plant. This is known as the “entourage effect”. In the future there is expected to be increased attention on niche and purified products.

Medicinal cannabis uses

The benefits of Medicinal Cannabis and the use is growing rapidly, as more people become aware of the therapeutic health benefits of Medicinal Cannabis and regulatory frameworks expand legalisation across the globe.

The Australian Commonwealth Department of Health, in conjunction with state and territory governments, has coordinated the development of an overview and new clinical guidance documents for treating:

  • chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • epilepsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • chronic non-cancer pain
  • palliative care