OPINION: After all these years of people using marijuana to get high, it looks like the plant actually has more than about 120 cannabinoid molecules, with only the one molecule, THC, being responsible for getting you stoned.
The spotlight is now on the remaining 119 molecules within cannabis, which could become the next generation of drugs and therapies for a wide range of illnesses.
University of Sydney's Professor Iain McGregor, Director of Psychopharmacology and research fellow David Allsop have been working with the plant for some time and have revealed some of their discoveries.
"Cannabis contains a cornucopia of non-psychoactive, non-intoxicating THC cousins (THC-A, THC-V, CBD) with emerging medicinal potential," said ProfMcGregor.
Giving CBD on its own has anti-psychotic effects, as effective as standard anti-psychotic drugs but with fewer side effects.
CBD also has remarkable results in treating different forms of childhood epilepsy that, at this stage, have not been successfully treated by conventional anti-convulsants.
THC-V is another exciting non-psychoactive cannabinoid molecule that could reduce appetite and fat stores, and making it potentially, a powerful treatment for obesity.
One cannabis-derived product is already approved for use in Australia.
Sativex oral spray contains THC and CBD and reduces muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis.
There are still adverse mental health consequences of smoking normal cannabis, but if it can be modified to remove these traits, it could be safer for everyone.
"No medicine is perfect: opiates control pain but may be addicting and constipating; antidepressants lift mood but may numb you out and ruin your sex life; statins can lower your cholesterol but can cause muscle wastage," Prof McGregor said.
"All drugs are poisons - it is just a matter of dose," he said.
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