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A brief history of Medicinal Cannabis  
The endocannabinoid system and the human body

2737 BC

The Chinese referenced Cannabis for Medicinal use in its literature documenting the plant as having anti-inflammatory properties and positive effects on rheumatism.



Cannabis is included in the United States Pharmacopeia as being useful for ailments such as neuralgia (nerve pain), gout and convulsive (seizure) disorders.


The US Controlled Substances Act classified marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, equivalent to heroine and LSD in its addictiveness and propensity for abuse.


Scientists discovered an endogenous (internal) cannabinoid receptor, CB1, in the human body. A few years later they found CB2. These discoveries led to an understanding of our internally regulated cannabinoid system, the endocannabinoid system. 


California became the first state in the US to permit legal access to botanical cannabis for medicinal purposes under physician supervision also known as the Compassionate Use Act.


The New Zealand Government passes legislation intended to improve access to medicinal cannabis. Under the legislation the Medicianal Cannabis Scheme allows domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products under licence, and sets quality standards for products and all stages of production. From April 2020, New Zealand GP’s can prescribe medicinal cannabis.



Marijuana is legal in 33 US states and the district of Colombia however at the federal level the Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies marijuana as a class 1 drug.

The human body comprises a number of systems. You have no doubt heard about the nervous system, the reproductive system, the digestive system and the respiratory system but you may be unaware of the endocannabinoid system. The main endocannabinoid system's function is the regulation of body homeostasis.

This system modulates your body’s desire to stay balanced and stable, known as homeostasis, and plays an important role in neuronal and immune cell function, both of which are important parts of pain perception.


There are three parts of the endocannabinoid system:

  1. cannabinoid receptors, namely CB1 and CB2

  2. endogenous cannabinoids (the cannabinoids that your body produces)

  3. enzymes that facilitate the breakdown and use of cannabinoids 


Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout your body and help determine how cannabinoids affect you.

CB1 receptors are found predominantly in your central nervous system (the CNS includes the nerves of your spinal cord and brain) and affect a person’s pain experience. CB1 receptors also play a role in the signaling of pain to the brain via the spinal cord. On a physiological level, CB1 receptors can affect your emotions, memory, executive functioning, and reward. CB1 is the receptor predominantly responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis.

CB2 receptors play an important role in pain via their role in the body’s immune response, mainly due to their anti-inflammatory effect, although they also have analgesic or pain-relieving properties. These receptors are expressed in both immune cells, peripheral (outer) tissues, and in the central nervous system – but in much lower levels than CB1 receptors.

Marijuana contains exogenous or external cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. THC acts directly on both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, although not with the same precision as our internal endocannabinoids (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol).


While most of the medicinal qualities of marijuana are attributed to these cannabinoids, other plant properties are involved as well.

Endocannabinoids are chemical messengers that instruct your body how to react to pain, inflammation, mood and feeling.  


Scientists now believe our bodies endocannabinoid system can become deficient and need to be supplemented, just as you would supplement an iron or vitamin deficiency. Scientists now believe the molecules in cannabis can interact with the ECS system to provide a range of physical and psychological health benefits.

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Health and wellness benefits of Cannabinoids  

Hundreds of clinical studies from across the world have shown a vast range of potential benefits from this natural product. Research is reporting success in testing medicinal cannabis and cbd for managing the following conditions:

  • Autism

  • Auto immune and inflammatori disorders 

  • Anxiety

  • Bi-polar affective disorder

  • Cancer

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Chronic Pain

  • Dementia

  • Depression

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Glaucoma

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Lupus

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • Neuropathic Pain

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Pains typically treated with opioids

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Seizures

  • Severe nausea

  • Sleeping disorders

  • Stroke 

  • Treatment resistant epilepsy



Got Questions?

As society slowly rediscovers some of the benefits of medicinal cannabis and CBD attitudes and legislation are changing around the world.


Medicinal cannabis is for many a new product and as a result there is still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Some of the questions we get asked most often are answered below.

  • Can you drive a car during cannabis therapy?
    In the case of medically prescribed and intended use of cannabis, it is not an administrative offense contrary to the Road Traffic Act if THC can be detected in the blood. However, since THC can affect performance and reaction speed, suitability to drive can be restricted. For this reason, the doctor must assess whether a patient under treatment with cannabis therapeutics is fit to drive. Patients are responsible for assessing their own ability to react before each journey and not driving if they are dizzy, light-headed, drowsy or have any sensory impairments.
  • Are you always high?
    For medical use, cannabis is dosed in such a way that intoxication can usually be avoided. Due to the low initial dose, patients slowly get used to the treatment and are usually not restricted in either thinking or acting. If a state of intoxication occurs regularly, the correct dose setting should be checked by the doctor treating you.
  • Do I have to smoke cannabis to benefit from therapy?
    Smoking or vaporizing cannabis flowers are possible routes of application. In addition, cannabis can be consumed for medical purposes in various forms (dronabinol capsules, oily dronabinol drops, oily cannabis oil resin solution), in particular orally and perorally. Cannabis blossoms can also be taken orally after processing. The therapist and the person to be treated decide together which form of administration seems suitable to start with. Subsequently, in some cases different application forms have to be tested in order to identify the optimum administration for a patient.
  • Does Medical Cannabis Treatment Change the Brain or Personality?
    There are currently hardly any valid research results on the long-term use of medical cannabis. In its scientific report “Cannabis: Potential and Risks. A Scientific Analysis (CaPRis)” from 2015 made an assessment of the side effects of cannabis medicines. According to an analysis by the BMG, side effects can occur frequently when using medical cannabis, but these were considered to be temporary and not serious.
  • Can you take cannabis therapeutics with you on holiday?
    Within the Schengen area, all medically prescribed narcotics can be taken with you; patients only need a medical certificate, which must also be confirmed by the highest state health authority. The certificate is valid for one month. Outside the Schengen area, patients should find out about the respective national legal situation - also in transit countries including transit airports! - information.
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