Questions and answers about Cannabis

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis, which is also known as marijuana, is a plant that was first cultivated in Central Asia and is now cultivated in many parts of the world. The Cannabis plant produces a resin (thick substance) that contains compounds called cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids are psychoactive (affect the mind or mood). In the United States, Cannabis is a controlled substance and was classified as a Class I drug (a drug with a high potential for abuse and not accepted for medical use). If you need help for, click this OMMA Oklahoma for more information.

Hemp is a mixture of the Cannabis plant with very low concentrations of psychoactive compounds. Hemp oil or cannabidiol (CBD) are products made from the extracts of industrial hemp, while hemp seed oil is an edible fatty oil that contains very little or no cannabinoids. Although hemp is not a controlled substance; CBD is.

For more information on Medicinal Cannabis products, see the General Information section of the Health Professional Version of the Cannabis and Cannabinoids summary.

The clinical trials in which Cannabis is studied for the treatment of cancer are few. In order for researchers to conduct clinical research trials of plant-based Cannabis in the United States, they must submit an application for an experimental new drug to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), obtain an authorization for a drug of classification I of the Administration of Drug Control of the United States (DEA) and an approval of the National Institute on the Abuse of Drugs of the United States.

Under federal law, possession of Cannabis (marijuana) is illegal in the United States unless used in approved research. However, in a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia, laws have been enacted to legalize medical marijuana.

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What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids, which are also known as phytocannabinoids, are chemicals in Cannabis that produce drug-like effects in the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system. More than 100 cannabinoids have been found in Cannabis. The main active cannabinoid in Cannabis is delta-9-THC. Another active cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabinoids may be helpful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.

If Cannabis is illegal, how do some cancer patients in the United States use it?

Although federal law prohibits the use of Cannabis, the map below shows the states and territories where Cannabis for medicinal purposes was legalized. Some other states legalized only one ingredient of Cannabis, such as cannabidiol (CBD); those states are not included in the map. Medical marijuana laws vary from state to state.

How is Cannabis administered or consumed?

Cannabis is taken by mouth (in baked goods or as an herbal tea) or inhaled. When consumed by mouth, the main psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis (delta-9-THC) is processed in the liver and converted into an additional psychoactive chemical (11-OH-THC).

When Cannabis is smoked and inhaled, cannabinoids quickly enter the bloodstream. Smaller amounts of the psychoactive chemical (11-OH-THC) are produced than when taken by mouth.

In a growing number of clinical trials, a drug produced from a Cannabis extract containing specific amounts of cannabinoids is being studied. This medicine is sprayed under the tongue.

Have any laboratory or animal studies been conducted on the use of Cannabis or cannabinoids?

In laboratory studies, tumor cells are used to test substances to find out if they are likely to have an anticancer effect. In animal studies, tests are done to see if a new drug, procedure, or treatment is safe and effective for animals. Laboratory and animal studies are done before testing a substance in humans.

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In laboratory and animal studies the effects of cannabinoids were tested. For more information about laboratory and animal studies using cannabinoids, see the Preclinical Laboratory or Animal Studies section of the Health Professional Version of the Cannabis and Cannabinoids summary.

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