Pills vs. Medicine : : Marinol vs. Whole Plant Cannabis

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:

  • Euphoria 
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • 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-OXIDANT — THC, CBD, Limonene, Terpinolene, Terpinene, Camphene

ANALGESIC/PAIN KILLER — THC, CBD, Linalool, B-Carophyllene, Camphene, Menthol, Myrcene


ANTI-VIRAL/MICROBIAL — CBD, CBC, CBG, Ocimene, Fenchol, Camphor, Isoborneol, Nerolidol, Guaiol, Geranyl Acetate, Eucalyptol, A-Pinene, Carophyllene Oxide





ANTI-ANXIETY/ DEPRESSANT — THC, CBD, THC-V, Linalool, Terpinolene, Terpineol, Phellandrene, Limonene

3 comments on “Pills vs. Medicine : : Marinol vs. Whole Plant Cannabis”

  • I was given Marinol for years. I personally think this was no more than other placebo get rich, line the pockets of big pharma and whom ever else was in on this one. It did me no good at all. What a waste of money, and its big money; we’re talking over a thousand dollars for a months prescription. No thanks, I would rather that money be spend on the whole plant, or better yet?? the flowers.

    • I should note here that I am a 33 year cancer Warrior; been battling various types of this, since 1983 at the ripe old age of 26. I know, or should I say “My body knows” the difference between how it feels and deals with day to day things whether I have the ability to micro-dose throughout the day, or not. Not? is terrible. its down in bed and taking their big pharma addictive pain pills that in my dark humor; amuses me cause I cant keep the pills in me either without the help of one single herb. The Marinol? did nothing. at all. Maybe it would have been worse? I dont know, but for the money spent? they sure could have done better and what happened to the good stuff anyhow? thats why clinton and her machine already have a patent for MMJ. along with the FDA and big pharma and we, have our grassroots “show them your hand” protest, with the patent number written within our palms. too bad, I would share mine here..

      Instead of a lab created drug, made using a minicule amount of the cdb oil with a shiteload of what? sunflower oil?? for over a thousand dollars for like..120 pills? No way. who is profiting? it isnt us cancer fighters. or our families who want us better. pass on this.

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