Why Is There So Much Variety in Medical Cannabis?
It is probably safe to say that the average person on the street knows very little about medical cannabis. Nearly all of us are familiar with the debate over whether or not medical cannabis should be allowed by law, but anything beyond that is unknown. For instance, people wonder why there is so much variety in a typical cannabis pharmacy.
- vape cartridges
- edible products
- tinctures and oils
- topical medications.
As you might expect, the pharmacy also carries marijuana flower. Flower cannot be smoked in Utah, but it can be dry heated. Still, that doesn’t answer the variety question. Why are there so many different products for a single medicine?
Not Just One Drug
The confusion over variety is really a matter of not understanding medical cannabis as a drug. When we think of something like aspirin, we understand that there aren’t different forms of it. Aspirin is aspirin. You can buy coated and non-coated products, but you are still getting the same drug no matter which brand of aspirin you purchase.
Medical cannabis is different. Most of us think purely in terms of THC being the active medical ingredient. Yet THC is just one option. There are multiple cannabinoids that seem to have medicinal benefits. They include compounds like:
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
Science does not necessarily know everything there is to know about cannabinoids. The more we learn, the more opportunities there are to utilize these additional cannabinoids in medical cannabis formulas. Processors and growers in states like Utah are pushing hard to find out just how helpful all these other cannabinoids are.
Then There Are Terpenes
Another thing to consider are the terpenes found in cannabis plants. Actually, terpenes are natural compounds found in almost all plant life. They give plants and trees their unique odors. Researchers are now discovering that terpene profiles may influence how cannabinoids affect the endocannabinoid system.
Processors staying up on the research are even beginning to experiment with different terpene profiles. By combining certain terpenes with specific cannabinoids at specific levels, they are coming up with new products that may work better than others for some patients. Every new terpene-cannabinoid formula represents a new product on pharmacy shelves.
Delivery Methods Are Different
If multiple cannabinoids and terpene formulas were not enough, medical cannabis variety is enhanced by different delivery methods. Vape cartridges deliver medicinal benefits through inhalation. Tinctures are placed under the tongue while edibles are chewed and swallowed. Topical medications are applied to the skin.
Patients need different delivery methods to address their symptoms. Some patients stick exclusively with one delivery method while others use more than one. It is really a matter of understanding what works. Patients typically work with dispensary pharmacists to figure it all out. But even when they do, whatever they decide on is subject to change somewhere down the road.
A New Frontier
So much variety is evidence that medical cannabis is a new frontier waiting to be explored. As much as we think we know about cannabis and its active compounds, we have only scratched the surface to this point. Here’s hoping that any federal efforts to reschedule cannabis lead to more rigorous scientific research.
As research produces data, increasingly more specialized medical products will be developed. Until then, variety at the pharmacy level is necessary to ensure patients get the active ingredients, formulas, and delivery methods that work best for them.