There are many differences between the pharmaceutical drug Marinol and whole cannabis plant medicine. In fact, the only similarities are that both contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and both have been shown to help with loss of appetite and weight in AIDS patients and with nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy treatment.
Marinol consists of sesame seed oil and the active ingredient dronabinol, a form of THC that isn’t isolated from a plant; it is chemically synthesized in a laboratory to merely replicate the molecular structure of THC. It contains no other cannabinoids and no terpenes at all. Thus Marinol lacks the synergistic modulation effects upon the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other receptor systems in the body that occur with whole plant cannabis medicine.
Marinol has also been classified as a Schedule 3 drug on the Controlled Substances list. Schedule 3 drugs are deemed to have medical benefit and less potential for abuse and dependency than Schedule 1 or 2 substances. Schedule 3 classification means that doctors can prescribe, and insurance can cover, and patients can possess Marinol in any state.
Marinol only exists in capsule form at this time. Oral ingestion can be a very effective way to deliver cannabinoids because you don’t have to worry about destroying cannabinoids due to combustion, or not getting all the material warm enough to vaporize all the cannabinoids present. The primary drawback of ingestion is it takes longer to get relief. Smoking, vaporizing, sublingual drops, and nasal sprays are better for rapid delivery of cannabinoids. These methods also allow for the patient to control titration.
Some patients using Marinol have noted side effects such as:
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
- Depressed mood
- Muscle pain
- Eye redness, vision problems
- Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)
Whole plant cannabis medicine is used by many more people in the world for a wider array of medical conditions compared to Marinol. The plant been shown to cause apoptosis in cancerous cells. It reduces seizures in people with intractable epilepsy, relieves pain, and has powerful antioxidant effects compared to Marinol.
The whole cannabis plant has many active compounds, but the most crucial are cannabinoids and terpenes. These are the active compounds that people are usually talking about with the entourage or ensemble effect. This is a beautiful synergistic effect that they have on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other cell receptors. The entourage effect is why whole plant cannabis medicine has shown such promise in helping offer relief from so many medical conditions.
“Marijuana” was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the early 1970’s – and was (erroneously) deemed to have no medical value and high potential for abuse. This classification means that doctors cannot prescribe it (doctors in states that allow medical marijuana can only ‘recommend’ it), insurance won’t cover it, and it continues to be illegal under federal law. Maintaining this classification places the federal government in a very hypocritical light. It is interesting to note that the word “cannabis” appears rarely in statutory law. Prohibiting “marijuana’ was a purposeful effort to foster fear and perpetuate misinformation surrounding this natural herb.
Whole plant cannabis medicine comes in many forms and the number keeps growing as does the industry. You can choose the delivery method that best suits a particular condition as well as search for the certain chemotype that works for you effectively.
There are too many conditions for me to cite all the many studies where cannabinoids and terpenes have shown promise to help. Instead, shown below is a list of the benefits for which cannabinoids and terpenes offer proven relief. This should give a good idea of the power behind the “entourage” or “ensemble” effect of the whole plant, compared to THC only. Instead of taking Marinol to reduce nausea and stimulate appetite, people undergoing chemotherapy should be allowed whole plant cannabis to help fight the cancer as well.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY — THC, CBN, A-pinene, B-Carophyllene, A-Humelene, Borneol, Menthol, Isopulegol, Cymene, Myrcene
SEDATIVE — THC, CBN, Linalool, Myrcene, Terpinolene, Borneol
ANTI-CANCER — THC, CBD, Terpinolene, Bisabolol, Limonene
ANTI-SEIZURE/CONVULSANT/SPASMODIC — THC, THC-A, CBD, CBN, THC-V, CBD-U, Linalool, Isopulegol
ANTI-OXIDANT — THC, CBD, Limonene, Terpinolene, Terpinene, Camphene
ANALGESIC/PAIN KILLER — THC, CBD, Linalool, B-Carophyllene, Camphene, Menthol, Myrcene
PSYCHOACTIVE — THC
ANTI-VIRAL/MICROBIAL — CBD, CBC, CBG, Ocimene, Fenchol, Camphor, Isoborneol, Nerolidol, Guaiol, Geranyl Acetate, Eucalyptol, A-Pinene, Carophyllene Oxide
BONE GROWTH — CBD
APPETITE SUPRESSION — THC-V
APPETITE GAIN — THC
NEUROPROTECTANT — THC, CBD
ANTI-ANXIETY/ DEPRESSANT — THC, CBD, THC-V, Linalool, Terpinolene, Terpineol, Phellandrene, Limonene