We’ve all noticed the recent news headline shown above from a clinical trial in France. First, let me be clear. The molecule that killed one patient and left several others in a coma, is a non-cannabis based molecule that acts on the Endocannabinoid System.

This new group of drugs that are molecular “pieces” of cannabinoid molecules are developed to activate or suppress a cannabinoid receptor.

You might ask, why use pieces or “ligands” of molecules when we have the whole plant version already growing everywhere? Plants are tough to patent and make into medications; ligands or little pieces of molecules can be patented and turned into pharmaceuticals.

This is not the first time this has happened. There is a drug called rimonabant, which blocks the CB-1 receptor, was used nine years ago as an appetite suppressant. The idea being, CB-1 receptor activation gives us the “munchies” so if we block the receptor, appetite should be repressed. Well, it was, but the side effect was severe depression and a number of suicides. This was in theory predictable and a handful of cannabis physicians sent warnings regarding it’s release.

The Endocannabinoid system is complex and connects virtually every cell in our body. It is incredibly complex and we are still in the very early stage of understanding, despite our knowing about the ECS since 1990.

This all makes me very sad. People are dying from cannabis based molecular “bath salts”.

I am certain that science and pharmaceutical companies will in fact develop many great cannabinoid based molecules that treat patients in ways that the plant perhaps cannot. At the same time, this is a reminder that we have a very, very safe complex and multi-molecular medicine – Whole Plant Cannabis medicine grown in the ground.

Allan Frankel, MD

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Dr Frankel discusses what "Whole Plant" means, a brief description of the various CBD extracts currently on the market and where he sees the future of new hemp CBD products going as strains are further developed.