Each week we will aim to bring out a concise email that provides 4-5 key pieces of information addressing a specific issue in clinical therapeutics.
This week: Medicinal Cannabis
Wei Jin Wong, Clinical Pharmacist, Ward MM
Cannabis sativa is one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. Earliest written records of human use of cannabis date from the 6th century BC, in Europe and East Asia, mainly for medicinal purposes. In 1851, cannabis was included in the 3rd edition of the pharmacopoeia of the United States (USP). Subsequent editions included information on how to prepare extracts and tinctures of dried cannabis flowers to be used as an analgesic, hypnotic and anticonvulsant.
- The recreational use of cannabis products was followed by stricter control in the early 1900s. There have since been substantial changes to the use of cannabis for health/medicinal purposes and with it, policies related do it use. Landmark changes in policy have markedly changed cannabis use patterns, and reforms continue around the world.
- High concentrations of cannabinoid receptors are found in the areas of the brain known to be involved in regulation of appetite, memory, fear, and many other functions. Cannabidiol, an extract from the cannabis plant is also a known agonist of serotonin receptors and others which could potentially be used in the treatment and symptom relief of various neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and seizures.
- In Australia, federal legislation came into effect in October 2016 allowing legal cultivation, production and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis products under regulated circumstances to facilitate availability for clinical use in specific circumstances.
- Medicinal cannabis became a controlled drug in the Poisons Standard and as a result, can be prescribed under the provisions of a controlled drug (Schedule 8). However, as medical cannabis prescribing is also regulated across State/Territory levels, there are variations in accessibility across Australia. https://www.tga.gov.au/medicinal-cannabis-products-overview-regulation
- As understanding of the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis derivatives increases, a range of clinical trials are anticipated in Australia and around the world – this research is ultimately likely to have implications in a variety of settings, including the aged care sector.
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