Legalization in Canada is just around the corner, and this turning point is highlighting just how unique cannabis is. It’s not often that a substance can be consumed safely as both a potent plant medicine and a recreational intoxicant but clearly, cannabis doesn’t shy away from changing the game!
Most plant medicines contain a couple dozen unique compounds at most, but cannabis may yield as many as 113 unique cannabinoids, and that’s on top of its bounty of terpenes. Most of the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis plant have their own unique medicinal attributes, contributing to the enormous diversity of therapeutic benefits and experiences associated with the plant.
Since prohibition took root in 1937, medicinal consumers of cannabis have been left to fend for themselves in an underground market dedicated to recreational intoxication. The medical system in Canada has clearly been looking to meet the needs of both recreational and medicinal consumers.
Many of the arguments against medicinal cannabis, especially High-THC medicinal cannabis, stem from the stigma surrounding recreational use. Prohibitionist propaganda and outright falsehoods still abound about the dangers of psychoactive cannabis, negatively impacting medicinal patients. By demonstrating the safety of High-THC cannabis, legalization will dispel longstanding myths and provide a greater legitimacy to the plant.
Medical patients under the current system of licensed producers know the horror of out of stock product, limited options or unexpected delays in delivery. A lot of anxiety can be generated by the uncertainty of when your medicine will actually arrive, especially when you’re on a tight schedule. With legal and regulated dispensaries, medicinal patients are guaranteed a consistent, dependable, and laboratory-tested interim supply until their package arrives.
In the prohibition era, sanctions on research and cultivation have slowed the progress of cannabis research. Federal legalization will remove hurdles to cultivation and research, and spur government agencies to impartially assess the health effects of cannabis. Indeed, in January 2018, the government of Canada pledged $1.4 billion in additional funding for cannabis research.
As mentioned above, there are over 113 cannabinoids, or chemicals entirely unique to the cannabis plant. While most research to date has focussed on the psychoactive effects of THC, and more recently the many benefits of CBD, other cannabinoids such as: CBC, CBG, CBN, CBDA, THCA, and THCV, especially have displayed their own unique benefits, and are under research for their use in medicine. Recreational legalization means medical research can concentrate more on the unique benefits of these novel cannabinoids.
Experiments In Genetics
Most people know cannabis as a system of genetics, phenotypes, or strains. These strains contain unique combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant chemicals that yield specific effects. To date, cannabis breeders have had to keep their identities largely secret, and haven’t been able to openly share their genetic experiments. Legalization means these experiments can be used to collectively improve our understanding of plant genetics and create strains that yield the most beneficial therapeutic effects!
Lana Tong is an aspiring Biochemist and Squirrel Behavioral Psychologist based in Victoria, British Columbia. She's passionate about cannabis as a medicine, entheogen, food, fiber crop, and so much more. Lana hopes to one day swim in a pool filled with organic CBD oil. We all have dreams - right?!