Gallery C

It's All About Money

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Cannabis: Splitting Compounds Doesn't Work

By James Donahue

The battle over legalizing marijuana may continue for years because of one simple reason. Pharmaceutical companies have been unable to find a single compound in the plant that offers effective healing benefits without including all the rest of them.

This discovery was made by distinguished Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam after 50 years of studying the plant we commonly call marijuana. 

It was in 1963 that Mechoulam determined the structure of cannabidiol, an important component of the plant. The following year he became the first person to isolate delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or the psychoactive component we know as THC. Since then Mechoulam and his team have identified over 480 natural components in the cannabis plant. Of these, 66 have been classified as cannabinoids.

Mechoulam published a paper in 1999 that described what he called “the entourage effect.” What he and his team have discovered is that all of the compounds in the cannabis plant appear to work together to bring about the medical benefits found in marijuana. This is why the drug Marinol, a pure synthetic THC produced by pharmaceutical companies in the 1980s, was ineffective.

The State of Louisiana recently banned the sale of synthetic cannabinoids after reports that the compounds have caused dangerous toxin reactions for scores of users.

Mechoulam’s work, which was only recently made public in a CNN special report, supports the use of the whole cannabis plant for medical purposes. The active ingredients, found mostly in the buds of the plant, appear to have amazing beneficial results when used by patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments.

When consumed either with food or smoked, various studies claim that marijuana has been shown to be a powerful pain reliever, it impairs some cancer growth, treats glaucoma, relaxes muscles, reduces neurological impairment, treats ADD and ADHD, treats multiple sclerosis, relieves the effects of Crohn’s Disease, cures epilepsy, appears to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and relieves PMS.
In addition, the plant, which grows quickly and in almost any soil condition, has been used to make fine quality paper, textiles, is a source for making bio-degradable plastic, fuels, solvents, lubricants and even building materials. In the days of sailing ships, farmers grew hemp for the manufacture of high quality rope.
The only reason marijuana is listed by the government as a formula one drug is because the substance THC offers a sense of euphoria when first consumed. This effect has never been found to be physically harmful although it may impair the patient’s ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery. If anything, the drug provides a sense of well-being.
The “political” reason for prohibiting public use of marijuana appears to be financial. The pharmaceutical companies have not found a way to make a product from the plant that works as well as just consuming portions of the plant. Thus there is no profit in allowing people to grow marijuana in their own back yards. And it has so many healing benefits allowing the free use of “pot” threatens the sale of numerous other drugs that people must get a doctor's prescription to buy.