Newsletter June 2019

Good news for the Belgian pharmacist! Finally, a component of the cannabis plant, the CBD molecule, enters the officina as a pharmaceutical raw material (API). This is to make magistral preparations such as CBD oil. CBD is one of the important molecules of the cannabis plant. Her advantage is that she is not psychotropic, but still has many valuable medical properties.

The cannabis plant actually belongs to the medical world, but recreational use will always remain. It is an illusion to ignore that. However, the cannabis plant is not completely innocent. It is very important to realize that the purpose of both uses is completely different. The recreational user searches for the intoxication while the patient does not want this at all. The latter only seeks to improve his symptoms or improve his quality of life. In desperation, these patients look for information on the internet and often come across the subject of "medicinal cannabis". The word "medicinal" speaks for itself; doctor's supervision and sales via the pharmaceutical circuit. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case under Belgian law, which means that doctors and pharmacists have fallen behind. These hopeless patients then seek help where they can find it. They search for their "miracle medication" via the internet or via the illegal circuit, with all its consequences such as possible violation of the law or health risks. To avoid that these vulnerable people end up with "experiential experts" or "cannabis gurus" there is 

Cannabis Patient Care (see established. There doctors and patients can turn to professionals with medical training for qualitative advice regarding the use of medicinal cannabis. Medication with medicinal cannabis is not always easy because it is tailor-made, especially if varieties are used with the THC molecule. The application and dosage is strongly determined individually. It is therefore important that it is prescribed with knowledge. That is why guiding patients and doctors in the first phase is important. Medical cannabis is not a panacea, but in many cases it is worth trying. Fortunately, the plant has a very broad therapeutic margin and is not toxic. However, a slow build-up schedule must be started so that the body can get used to it. Most patients end up with Cannabis Patient Care even with the approval of their doctor. These sick people do not want to buy their cannabis on the black market, but want them to be followed up medically. As a pharmacist, I have been working on this complex and multifaceted topic for five years and I shudder at the idea that non-medically trained people provide medical advice to patients. Just think of the so-called "experience experts" and sellers in CBD stores that provide information about how and which variety to use. Many of these patients have a complex syndrome and usually also use a whole cocktail of medicines. There are also certain contraindications that must be taken into account. However, certain abuses are just there because the medical and academic institutions have started to be interested in the subject too late. By the way, many simply do not know that the cannabis plant has always been used for medical purposes. Cannabis was present in many pharmacopoeias. It has been phased out halfway through the past century (eg from the USP in 1941 and from the French pharmacopoeia in 1953). Fortunately we are now experiencing a remedicalization of cannabis. And this time, science is already a much bigger step ahead because it is rapidly investigating the many aspects of our endocannabinoid system. This body-specific control and regulation system is or was unknown to most doctors and pharmacists. That is why it is high time that the medical world became interested in it and incorporated it into curriculum packages of continuing education for medical professionals.

From a purely scientific point of view, there is still a lot of work to be done precisely because this medicinal plant offers great medical possibilities. The medical literature and practice prove that many patients can benefit from its use. If you can provide a significant amount of evidence of positive results, then you cannot continue to ignore it. After all, it would be unwilling if it were ignored. So there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and if you look for publications about medicinal cannabis, you will find about 8000 publications on PubMed. Enough material, but to give the plant its full value and to understand it better, doctors, health insurers and policy makers demand hard clinical and scientific evidence. 

Not easy for a plant that has been on the strictest list of narcotic drugs under United Nations regulations since 1961 together with heroin: substances with dangerous properties, susceptible to addiction with little or no therapeutic value. This classification has always hindered or even made scientific research impossible.

Medical cannabis has great prospects, but we must always remain on our guard for the glorification of the cannabis plant.

It is high time the government assumed its responsibility. Belgium is completely behind, while many other European countries have fully legalized medicinal cannabis for several years. Fortunately, people have had high-quality standardized pharmaceutical plant material for several years.

The first step to bring medicinal cannabis into the pharmaceutical circuit as an API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) in Belgium is therefore extracted from the cannabis plant via the CBD molecule. You can certainly applaud this! CBD is a molecule that is fairly safe to use and can provide a great deal of help to patients. It has good anti-inflammatory properties, among other things, and can therefore be used in a wide range of related diseases. It is also known to be anxiolytic and can therefore help with certain sleep disorders. It is not the intention here to list all its possible uses, because there are quite a few. Personally, I do have my doubts about the mystification of CBD that is taking place today on a large scale. This is aggressively advertised as a food supplement, in the cosmetics or lifestyle product and even by well-known influencers. But that is another matter.



Igna Huyghe

Reference pharmacist Medicinal Cannabis

Co-founder Cannabis Patient Care

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