By Sergio Vidal
President, Multidisciplinary Association for the Study of Medical Marijuana (AMEMM)
Today, many scientists in different countries support the use of marijuana-based medicine as an effective treatment for diseases and to relieve various symptoms, including: AIDS, sickle cell anemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spasticity, glaucoma, rheumatism, among others.
In Brazil, millions of people with one or more those conditions could benefit from the use of medicines containing the active ingredients of the cannabis plant. But every disease and illness requires a specific biochemical balance between cannabinoids and terpenes. Each needs a specific way of administration.
In addition, each genetic variety of marijuana has a specific and unique combination of those natural compounds. More than 85 molecules are produced exclusively by the marijuana plant, in addition to the most famous, THC and CBD.
Anyone who has delved into the history of Brazil — not just the history talked about in schools — knows one fact: since the beginning of colonization until almost the 20th Century, many Brazilians citizens grow and use hemp in various regions of the country, including the government itself, through Hemp-fiber Real Trading, a state initiative that produced hemp for the Portuguese empire and their needs.
Production had as its main objective the extraction of hemp fibers — in fact, at the time, the main textile culture in the world. But cannabis cultivation was so widespread that there were also culturally many uses for the plant, including for medicinal purposes.
At that time, there was traditional medicinal use made by the population with the herb purchased at fairs and apothecaries, or grown at home, and also the official medical use, with doctors prescribing different marijuana-based remedies, for various illnesses and symptoms, sold in pharmacies with state authorization.In 1932, some politicians, ignoring the calls made at the time by doctors and pharmacists, totally banned marijuana in order to control the recreational use, and “regulate” medicinal and scientific uses. They did this without even taking into account the many people who suffer from lack of access to their medicines.
However, the prohibitionist drug policy and the violence thus produced has resulted in both the industrial use of the fibers and the medical use being completely eliminated due to the impeding bureaucracy. On the other hand, the illegal production for recreational use was not contained; in fact, under prohibition, it expanded.Recently, at a special meeting, Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) put CBD in the C1 list. Now it is legal to prescribe, produce and distribute marijuana-based products, but only containing CBD, not THC or other cannabinoids. This measure discourages the production of plant extracts, and facilitates the way for production of synthetic CBD, which by “coincidence,” already has a patent filed by a Brazilian pharmaceutical company.
However, only a limited number of patients need medicines containing only CBD. The vast majority of diseases need a combination of CBD with other cannabinoids, and some require inclusion of a large amount of THC; some require only THC.This attitude affects millions of people who needs marijuana-based medicine with cannabinoids which will continue to be prohibited, and also those who do not have the money to afford the high costs of the CBD extracts.
It is now up to organizations to pressure the government and ANVISA to not make the same mistake of the past: Standing in the way of cultivation and domestic production for research and medical purposes, something that is already planned since 2006, when the drug law 11.343 came into force, but only now is becoming true.
Laws should never be made to block the access of sick people to medicines. What we really need is a full regulation of marijuana use for medicinal scientific purposes.
The medicinal legalization must be full and inclusive, and not one that serves only a few special interests. We need all kinds of marijuana-based medicines and all the plant, suitable for all diseases, affordable and accessible to all. And we do not do this regulating only CBD.
We, members of the Multidisciplinary Association for the Study of Medical Marijuana, a group formed by scientists, doctors, patients and growers, will keep fighting for full legalization of medical marijuana and all marijuana-based edicines, and for safe access for everyone who needs this inexpensive and effective medicine.