Monday 15 February 2021

Cannabis For Medical And Pharmaceutical Purposes


Tim Sandle has begun a three parts series on medicinal cannabis.

There are over one hundred identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant: isolated from different parts of the plant, including leaves, flowers, stems, roots, and seeds (those parts that fall under ‘inflorescence’ are of the greatest importance). While Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), derived from the flowers, gets most of the attention surrounding the plant (based on its euphoric properties), cannabidiol (CBD), has received more pharmacological attention. 

This paper, in exploring pharmaceutical and medicinal uses, is the first installment in a three-part series:

·         Part 1: An overview of the development and application

·         Part 2: Analytical quality control

·         Part 3: Microbiological quality control

The future potential arises because cannabis is not a single drug like aspirin or oxycodone. Cannabis contains at least three, and probably dozens of different psychoactive molecules and their effects interact with one another in as-yet-unknown ways. Of primary concern are THC based and CBD based medicinal therapies. Hence there is probably more to cannabis than THC and CBD in terms of potential pharmaceutical application.  Some scientists describe a phenomenon known as the ‘entourage effect’. This is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than THC act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant. For example, there are numerous terpenes present in the cannabis plant and variation between cultivars. This is an area undergoing research with a view to running possible clinical trials for those cannabis derived drugs that show promise.

Additionally, cannabis comes in diverse forms with various active ingredients. This creates complexities when compared with the legal and pharmaceutical definitions of medicines. In turn this has -ranging implications for quality control, prescriber practice and the assessment of clinical evidence.

The first part is:

Sandle, T. (2020): Cannabis For Medical And Pharmaceutical Purposes – Part 1: An Overview Of The Development And Application, Journal of Validation Technology, 26(5):



Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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