For hundreds of years, cannabis has been used both medically and recreationally, but the recent acceptance and legalization of medical cannabis propelled the movement to use it as both a treatment for disease and to manage symptoms. Currently cannabis is used to treat anorexia, nausea, glaucoma, seizures, and most commonly to alleviate chronic pain.
A recent report from the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that chronic pain is one of the most common causes for adults to seek medical care, as well as being linked to a slew of issues including limited mobility, anxiety, depression, opioid dependence, and poor overall health or quality of life. Researchers estimate that 20.4% of adults (50.0 million) in the USA experience chronic pain and for 8% of adults (19.6 million) the pain is both chronic and high impact.
The Issues with Using Cannabis Medically
Public policy is progressing faster than the science of medical cannabis. The plant contains many cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid components which may work together in the flower as what’s known as the “entourage effect” vs. as separate compounds. Unfortunately, the correlation between the cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid composition when using the plant medicinally remains largely unknown.
Researchers have found it difficult to acquire and study the whole plant due to the plant’s illegal status. So far, most of the research done has focused on the social detriments and physiological risks linked to recreational use of the drug, and research into the efficiency of treating or alleviating symptoms with particular strains of the drug remains incomplete.
This challenges medical professionals, who are dealing with a sore lack of evidence-based guidelines on cannabis dosage and/or composition. Currently, doctors will give a recommendation to begin the patient at a low dose and record the results to observe the symptom relief given. If necessary, the dosage will increase slowly – a method known as the “start low – go slow” protocol.
Unfortunately, due to this process relying heavily on trial and error, it can lead to frustration in patients, failure to treat symptoms in a timely manner, and doctors to being wary of using cannabis as a treatment for pain relief.
What Can Be Done to Manage This Issue
Discussions with doctors who specialize in pain management have shown that it takes six months on average to reach the ideal THC:CBD dose to manage a patient’s pain successfully. This period of adjustment can cause both doctor and patient frustration, and lead to patient reliance on addictive opiates and government financial support.
Clearly, there is a great need for more evidence-based research to support the prescription of cannabis as a treatment for various health conditions, particularly chronic pain. To allow doctors to provide efficient treatment, further clinical research must focus on finding the ideal dosing and/or composition for pain relief. Scientific evidence is critical to lead the way for medical cannabis into the mainstream.
Technologies can assist in the search for scientific evidence. GemmaCert’s new technology uses fundamentals of spectroscopy, image analysis, and machine learning to depict the cannabis flower’s unique spectral fingerprint. This does not just include major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, but all the active compounds. GemmaCert essentially allows the entourage effect to become visualized.
Using machine learning and complex algorithms, GemmaCert’s patented technology can look for the associations between the cannabis treatment’s spectral fingerprints and its efficiency as a treatment for specific health conditions.
Once the technology has identified the connections, only the products with a similar fingerprint need be used to treat that specific health condition. Companies can be instructed to breed cultivars with similar fingerprints. Ultimately, there will be enough scientific evidence to back specific claims, which can be published on product labels. Once there is enough scientific evidence, medical cannabis can become an accepted therapeutic product like any other medication.
How Do Regulations Benefit Businesses?
Although the strict federal regulations may seem like an added hassle for business owners, regulations also clear the market of questionable businesses, and builds consumers’ confidence and trust in the products and businesses. Overall, regulations raise a business’ value in the long run, and mutually benefit both the business and the consumer.