Cannabis has been used by humans for thousands of years for its fibre, oils, and its medicinal properties.
Ancient civilizations in Egypt, China and Greece all used the plant to aid a variety of different ills. In fact, it was until recently that cannabis stopped being used as a ‘mainstream’ medicine. Until the early 20th century it was available as a medicine throughout the US, the UK and Europe.
It was of course later in the same century that the plant was banned throughout the world, in the US with the passing of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and in New Zealand with the passing of the Narcotics Act 1965.
WHAT IS MEDICINAL CANNABIS?
Inside the cannabis plant are a number of cannabinoids. There is debate about just how many the plant contains, but the number is thought to be around 100 (lexariabioscience.com) . It is these cannabinoids that give the cannabis plant its medicinal properties. The most well-known of the cannabinoids are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). Both THC and CBD are used to help relieve pain and reduce symptoms across a multitude of indications.
HOW DOES MEDICINAL CANNABIS VARY FROM BLACK-MARKET CANNABIS?
The biggest difference between medicinal cannabis and black-market cannabis (cannabis grown at home), is quality and dosage control. Although still cannabis, it is highly unlikely that the cannabinoid types and levels of the black-market cannabis are known. In fact, it is almost impossible as the technology to analyse the cannabinoid content of cannabis isn't in New Zealand yet. And although you, or someone you know, might have been finding relief in black-market cannabis, chances are the cannabis is not as effective as it could be.
Produced in a pharmaceutical environment, medicinal cannabis products are made to the same high standards the paracetamol or painkillers you get from the pharmacy. Unlike black-market cannabis, the environment the plants are grown in is tightly monitored, fertiliser and pesticide use is kept to a minimum (or not used at all), and testing is carried out throughout the production process.
With pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis, you can trust you are getting the right quantity of cannabinoids every time you take your medicinal cannabis product, without any of the uncertainty of black-market cannabis.
WHAT IS MEDICINAL CANNABIS BENEFICIAL FOR?
As more and more countries around the world legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes, more and more research is being completed into the plant's therapeutic benefits.
So far there is evidence to suggest to medical cannabis products can have a positive effect for those in palliative care, suffering from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea and chronic pain.
Research continues, but it is also thought medicinal cannabis may help those suffering from Anxiety, PTSD, various forms of Cancer, Parkinson’s, Insomnia, Eczema and Psoriasis, and Crohn's Disease, amongst others.
If you think medicinal cannabis could help you, your first port of call should be your Doctor. Failing that, get in touch with a medicinal cannabis expert like Dr Gulbransen at Cannabis Care, Cannabis Clinic, Green Doctors and Canna Doc.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to email us, and we will help you as best we can.
THE HISTORY OF MEDICAL CANNABIS IN NEW ZEALAND
The story of Cannabis in New Zealand is thought to have begun with Sister Mary Joseph Aubert. Sister Mary was a French nurse who immigrated to New Zealand from France in 1860 after refusing to accept an arranged marriage. She wanted to teach the indigenous population and on arrival in New Zealand began working with young Maori woman in Auckland (1). In 1883 she moved to Jerusalem (Hiruharama) on the banks of the Whanganui River, starting a Catholic mission a few years later, known as Daughters of our Lady of Compassion (2).
It was here in Jerusalem that Mary began farming, growing fruit and collecting native plants including a crop that at the time was known as Indian hemp. Her charity work at the mission was not cheap, however Mary was able to fund her enterprises by making and selling medicines from the native plants, of which many sources suggest, included cannabis (3). A website dedicated to the life and teachings of Sister Mary Josephs Aubert says “it is hard to confirm the truth or otherwise of such accounts” (4).
The first official acknowledgement of cannabis’ existence in New Zealand came in 1889 when The New Zealand Herb Doctor is published. For asthma, spasmodic coughs, neuralgia and menstrual cramps the recommended remedy was Indian hemp, to be smoked or taken as a tincture (3). The annual exam for pharmacy students also included a section on the preparation of cannabis. In 1891 Mary Joseph signed a contract with Dunedin firm Kempthorne Prosser & Co to market her medicines to the public. Within the first 3 months over 10,000 bottles of Sister Mary’s medicines were sold in Wellington alone. In 1894 Sister Mary pursued legal action against Kempthorne Prosser & Co for watering down her products in the search for increased profits (5).