Cannabis has been considered as both an illicit drug and a medicine throughout its history. Introduced to the UK as a medicine in the nineteenth century, its medical utility was limited and it was not until tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the principal active components in cannabis, was isolated in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam and his team in Israel that scientific research on the drug expanded. Further major developments came in the 1980s, when the cannabinoid receptors in the brain were discovered.
Scientists, clinicians, policy makers and patients interested in exploring and utilizing cannabis as an orthodox medication attended this seminar. Several were involved with the early elucidation of the structures of the components of the cannabis plant, or with the two MRC-funded trials in the 1990s into the therapeutic effect of cannabis on multiple sclerosis (MS) and postoperative pain. The founding director of GW Pharmaceuticals discussed the problems of growing cannabis plants and standardizing extracts to produce a medicine that could gain regulatory approval. Two MS patients related their experiences of cannabinoid medications and the significance of patient activism and self-medication in renewing research interest in the potential medical benefits of cannabis, against the backdrop of increasing recreational use, was also considered.
The meeting was suggested by Professor Virginia Berridge, who chaired the meeting jointly with Professor E. M. Tansey. Contributors include: Professor David Baker, Professor Virginia Berridge Dr Vincenzo Di Marzo, Professor Griffith Edwards, Professor John Galloway, Dr Edward Gill, Dr Geoffrey Guy, Dr Clare Hodges, Dr Anita Holdcroft, Ms Victoria Hutchins, Professor Raphael Mechoulam, Professor Anthony Moffat, Dr William Notcutt, Professor Roger Pertwee, Dr Philip Robson, Dr Ethan Russo, Professor Tilli Tansey, Ms Suzanne Taylor. One appendix gives diagrams of the structures of the major plant cannabinoids and structurally-related synthetic cannabinoids.
Introduction by Professor Leslie Iversen, 132pp, 1 appendix, 5 figures, biographical notes, references and index.
Crowther S M, Reynolds L A, Tansey E M. (eds) (2010) The medicalization of cannabis, Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine, vol. 40. London: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.
ISBN 978 085484 129 5