CBD was discovered early in the 1900’s

UK based cannabis specialist GW Pharmaceuticals has taken a lot of interest in the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) that comes from cannabis plants. What is it and why are they patenting so many medicines with the chemical?

Over the years I have done a number of articles on CBD. It has been shown to have antipsychotic properties. In the last few weeks of maturation of the bud, CBD builds up. Smokers of high CBD varieties get a mellow feel from it, but it also counteracts the onset of psychosis brought about by THC.

If you grow your own weed properly, or get it from a good source, it is likely that the buds will be mature and you have a lower likelihood of having negative secondary effects such as cannabis psychosis. Unfortunately with criminal gangs in control of the market they want you to get as stoned as possible so don’t much like CBD, and harvest it before it is mature. This is one argument for the government to license and control weed production as it will do people less harm due to higher CBD concentrations reducing the psychotic effects of THC.

I have spoken to researchers such as Prof Val Curran at UCL over the years who came to believe that CBD could be the next great antipsychotic, with far fewer known side effects than the nasty shit given to sufferers of psychosis today.

The biochemistry seems to be that though CBD doesn’t have a direct effect on the central nervous system in the same way as THC (that binds to dopamine receptors in the brain, giving you a rush), CBD prevents the body’s own cannabinoids from being absorbed and they are in higher concentrations in the body. One of the two main endocannabinoids is called anandamide that is part of a system that controls the concentrations of other synapse chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. Anandamide can be a powerful antipsychotic, and CBD in preventing anandamide’s reuptake helps the brain deal with its own problems.

If like me you’re into hard exercise to straighten your head, the body releases a lot of anandamide and you can get a rush from it in its own right – this is not surprising since the person who named it used the Sanskrit word for bliss, Ananda, to name the endocannabinoid the ‘bliss chemical’!

CBD was discovered early in the 1900’s and the US government rapidly patented it even though there was no known use. The patent expired before anyone discovered a good use for it and you cannot renew patents. Consequently no one can make any money by formulating a medicine solely of CBD. With the average cost of getting a medicine to market in the region of $1.5 billion, you need to make your money back somehow. Cannabis isn’t the only medicine that is up shit creek in this way – I spent time talking to another professor from UCL who patented a treatment for Parkinson’s in the 1980’s for £3000. He now realises it works for addiction too, and where he could more or less pass the hat round for the £3000 the first time round, not everyone has a spare £1 billion in their penny jar these days! That too was patented for something else and can’t be re-patented.

Money makes the world go round sadly and until we have a world where people are allowed to use herbal medicines at will we won’t see doctors telling psychiatric patients to get hold of some CBD instead of the nasty shit that wrecks your liver and causes obesity and diabetes (such as my own medication) the doc gives them today.

You’ll never see GW Pharmaceuticals supporting the cannabis legalisation movement because we’d kill their business. Money makes the government go round! This is why Sativex is deemed safe as a spray yet the government will tell you that a space cake is dangerous, even if it had the same variety of cannabis as Sativex. I’ll leave you to rant over that one.

GW Pharmaceuticals has recently announced it has run some successful early stage trials of a combination therapy of CBD and an antipsychotic that is on the market already. In the press release announcing it, Justin Glover, GW’s Chief Executive said, “We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this trial, together with a notably reassuring safety profile, provide GW with the prospect of new and distinct cannabinoid neuropsychiatric product pipeline opportunity.” Note their reference to the money making potential. In my own view, it is great they’re acknowledging the potential of CBD but I wish they’d drop the antipsychotic they’re using with it as we’d have something that could treat millions of people without nasty side effects.

The company is also working on an antiepileptic drug using CBD. This could be very exciting as I am close to a group of mothers who used an antiepileptic drug called sodium valproate before and during pregnancy. It is estimated that 10,000 kids in the UK have serious birth defects from their mothers taking it. Sodium valproate has done more damage to kids than thalidomide did. If this goes to full license? Hundreds of thousands of children of mothers with epilepsy may be born without birth defects. If you could replace Epilim with a natural plant extract? You could change the world!

GW is also looking at using CBD to prevent brain damage in children that come from complicated pregnancies. This is very early stage stuff, and though they haven’t announced it on their website the patent can found the patent here.

One of the things medical researchers resent is the cost of bringing drugs to market. The costs have rocketed over the years due to some well publicised muck ups that have nearly killed people. It means that you have to have tens of billions of pounds to get a drug to market as a pharmaceutical company, and you need to patent it in order to get your money back. Cannabis is by far not the only medicine is caught up in this bind. It also means that pharmaceutical cannabis companies will actively lobby against cannabis legalisation. Money, not democracy runs the western world. We elect politicians who then ignore us while attending long lunches with billionaires.

Democracy is on the march with regards cannabis in many countries, notably the US who’s DEA won’t shut up about the dangers of weed yet the states are one by one seeing it as a cheaper way of treating many illnesses than pharmaceutical companies (who are gradually pricing themselves out of the market) and overruling the Feds by legalising it.

Cannabis supporters have a long way to go before it is as widely accepted as aspirin. My 8 month old daughter may be in university when that happens. I believe it will though, and the rubbish spouted by governments of how safe Sativex is when weed apparently isn’t will change. Schizophrenics like me may one day wean ourselves off our liver poisoning antipsychotics and take CBD instead. It will happen one day if we all keep the faith, even if the young men reading this blog now will be middle aged when it happens.