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There’s more to marijuana than THC: Martin Lee talks about CBD

Simon Speakers

Cannabis is pretty easy for anyone to get these days – anyone, that is except researchers and scientists, said author and journalist Martin A. Lee at his March 6 presentation sponsored by the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

The presentation focused on the CBD (cannabidiol) element of cannabis, but Lee started with some context.

Requests for the rescheduling of cannabis from it’s Schedule I level – the same as heroin – cannot be considered, say federal agencies, until more clinical research is done. Yet those same federal agencies won’t authorize or provide the raw material needed for the research. Lee thinks part of the reason for this reluctance is because of the outcome of past studies approved by the government. Most have found more positive aspects to the plant than negative, even when the tests were designed to point out the dangers of cannabis. This attitude may hamper scientific research, but it doesn’t prevent it.

Lee is wary of extreme claims on either side. Cannabis is not a bogus health aide, nor is it a miracle cure. But controlled scientific tests show that the CBD element in the plant is beneficial in many situations.

It’s estimated that the marijuana/cannabis plant has over a hundred compounds, most in very small amounts. The best-known component, of course, is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which produces the psychoactive “high.”  Much less well known is CBD (cannabidiol). It does not produce a “high,” and can actually counter the psychoactive effect of THC.

Most products in marijuana dispensaries are bred to be high in THC, with little CBD. This is changing, though, since the medical aspects of CBD were “rediscovered” in 2009. Lee highlighted scientific abstracts from California, Brazil, Israel and Great Britain attesting to this.

Here are some of the findings about CBD that Lee noted:

CBD has been shown to reduce breast cancer proliferation, invasion and metastasis by “turning off” the id-1 gene. Vitamin D also has this quality, so Lee would like to see what happens if Vitamin D and CBD are prescribed together as a cancer deterrent.

CBD exerts an anti-convulsant effect in animal models. There are reports of it stopping seizures. Stanford University is studying it in connection with epilepsy.

American scientists can’t test it on humans, but others can. A study from Brazil shows CBD to be useful as an anti-psychotic treatment in humans, and a British study found that it suppresses cardiac arrhythmia.

CBD has been found to have strong anti-oxidant properties, a proven element in preventing strokes, as well as being a neurogenic agent, meaning it promotes stem cell creation.

It has no known adverse side effects, other than “dry mouth.”

As noted, these findings are not “maybe” or “what might be” speculations; these come from controlled studies. CBD, Lee says, doesn’t cure anything, but it could accurately be called “a medicine that helps trigger other medicines to work.”

Nearly a hundred people came to the Commonwealth Club offices for the presentation. Most attendees were over 40 … and there were no tie-dye clothes or reggae colors visible anywhere.