Pharmaceutical Applications of Marijuana


There has been an intense focus on marijuana and its legalization in many states in the U.S. in recent years. While medical marijuana has been available on a limited basis in various states, there are now three states that allow for public distribution of recreational marijuana. Fans of the recreational drug aren’t alone in their interest though, as pharmaceutical companies are looking into the value of the drug and its pharmaceutical applications.

Medical and Pharmaceutical Uses of Marijuana

Marijuana has been available on a medical-needs basis for a number of years because it offers a variety of benefits for patients suffering from certain diseases. Currently, doctors prescribe medical marijuana for pain management and to help minimize the impact of other side effects or ailments from other diseases. Examples include:

  • Muscle spasms, such as in multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Chemotherapy-related nausea
  • Helping poor appetite due to chronic illness

How Medical Marijuana Works

Chemicals found in marijuana are already present in the body in similar forms. These chemicals impact your pain sensors, inflammation, and other processes. With the aid of marijuana, many doctors believe that those natural chemicals can have an enhanced, positive effect on the body. Most doctors prescribe marijuana for smoking or use in a vaporizer, but it can also be eaten or taken as a liquid extract.

Downside of Marijuana

Just as legitimate pharmaceuticals have side effects, there are also downsides to the use of marijuana. Although they don’t last long, dizziness, drowsiness, short-term memory loss, and euphoria are some of the most common side effects of the drug. It is not advisable for those suffering from heart disease, pregnant women, or those with a history of psychosis to use the drug.

Other Uses for Marijuana and Marijuana Chemicals

Multiple sources, such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and Forbes, have noted pharmaceutical companies are looking to marijuana and its related chemical compounds for assistance in the treatment of other diseases beyond those currently accepted. The NCBI points out that cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) have high toxicological value in the human body, and point to studies suggesting that these compounds could have positive impacts on those suffering from diabetes, inflammatory diseases, neurological conditions, and a host of other issues.

Forbes highlights the case of GW Pharmaceuticals, which launched trials in April 2015 to use CBD on newborn babies who have suffered brain injuries as a result of oxygen deprivation during the birthing process.

There are still other examples of pharmaceutical companies pursuing marijuana compounds for use in other treatments. Two additional cases include:

  • Insys Therapeutics is looking to use CBD in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, a common and aggressive malignant brain tumor.
  • Cannabis Science is leading the field in CBN-based therapeutic research and want to use it to “address the neglected pandemic oncological manifestations of pandemic infectious diseases in human health.”

Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues its pursuit of illegal vendors. That isn’t stopping pharmaceutical companies from taking advantage in states where the drug is now legal to try and advance the understanding of the potential benefits of the drug.

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