A group of researchers from the University of New Mexico have found that scientists may have been mistaken about the chemicals that are most and least associated with marijuana’s medicinal properties, writes Calvin Hughes.

THC is the compound in marijuana best-known for creating the signature high you get after consuming cannabis. And most of the time, THC is disregarded as having any medicinal properties. Instead, the medicinal properties of marijuana are usually attributed to CBD, a cannabis compound that does not have any intoxicating effects. That may not be the case though, as new research suggests these common assumptions about THC and CBD could be wrong.

“Despite the conventional wisdom, both in the popular press and much of the scientific community that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits,” Jacob Miguel Vigil – Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and one of the study’s authors – told Science Daily. “In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief.”

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Researchers came to those findings after analyzing data generated by patients via the ReleafApp smartphone app. ReleafApp acts both as a platform for medical marijuana patient education and collects user feedback on how different cannabis strains and consumption methods affect their individual medical conditions.

What they discovered was that patients who reported using cannabis varieties that contained higher levels of THC experienced greater symptom relief than those consuming variants with less THC and more CBD. And as Vigil says, this could justify big changes to the way medical marijuana is currently prescribed.

“These findings justify the immediate de-scheduling of all types of cannabis, in addition to hemp, so that cannabis with THC can be more widely accessible for pharmaceutical use by the general public,” said Vigil.

CBD has been growing in popularity as a wellness and beauty product since the US federal government effectively legalized the substance in December 2018 and it has become the basis of the first FDA approved marijuana-derived medication. However, as this new research suggests, maybe we should start looking at THC as equally medicinally capable. 

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