Both historical and contemporary research points to Cannabis as a powerful tool in the integrative treatment of complex diseases. Cannabis has many mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic targets. It can treat multiple medical conditions and symptoms concurrently, thereby reducing polypharmacy and unwanted pharmaceutical side effects. Cannabis may be a viable consideration for otherwise intractable problems, such as the current opioid crisis. Additionally it may be an option for patients with conditions which are not well understood, or have limited treatment (or treatments with limited response) – such as chronic pain, concussions, cancer and related symptoms, MS, epilepsy, PTSD etc.
Cannabis is a complex plant containing more than 500 compounds. Although CBD and THC are the most widely recognized and researched cannabinoids, many other constituents are medically active. The anecdotal benefits are broad and include anxiety, pain, mood, sleep, muscle relaxation, nausea and many others. However, we have only just begun to understand this plant. The basic pharmacology of cannabis including absorption, metabolism (pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics), drug interactions and effective dosing are not completely elucidated. We are in dire need of basic science and clinical research so that we can objectively assess the benefits and adverse effects in humans.
In addition to science, we desperately need education. Patients who are authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes often rely on advice provided by dispensary staff with no medical training. Many health care providers are also unable to provide evidence-based advice due to the exclusion of cannabis in medical, pharmaceutical, and nursing education.