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Medical cannabis’ power couple: Why we need both CBD and THC

Project CBD’s Martin Lee talks cannabis therapeutics

House of Cards: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

At the end of last month’s HHI expo, we spoke to Martin Lee from Project CBD, an educational platform that focuses on cannabis science and therapeutics. They’re located in Northern California and have a been a strong voice in the cannabis therapeutics scene for a long time.

We got down with Martin to talk about his work with Project CBD. Martin is a well of knowledge, and he dosed us up with a good spoonful of information about our favourite compounds, THC (tetrahydrocannabidinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol), and the importance of both in cannabis therapeutics.

Martin and his team are often at the forefront of the cannabis information movement. As their name suggests, one such area where they’ve made waves is the rediscovery of CBD and its therapeutic potential.

Martin Lee with Dopamine’s Adam Marshall

“We were involved in rediscovering CBD in Northern California, and at that time everything was THC, THC, THC. I happen to love THC, but we thought it was important to emphasise to the medical marijuana community in Northern California that there’s more to the plant than just THC…the ironic thing is these days we have to remind people it’s not just about CBD…”

There’s an issue here though. With the rise in understanding of CBD as an isolated compound, and its acceptance in the wider medical community as a treatment for a number of conditions, THC has fallen onto the back burner when it comes to talking about cannabis therapeutics, almost to the point of vilification for those resistant.

“I think it plays into an impulse on the part of naysayers and prohibitionists who have been wrong all along saying cannabis is dangerous, cannabis is evil, and now cannabis is not medical. Well they can’t say that any more, but now they say: the CBD is the good part, the THC is the bad part. We reject that idea – they happen to bring out the best of each other. I call them the power couple of cannabis therapeutics.”

The challenge for Martin and the rest of the cannabis media is to help people understand that it is not simply one compound in cannabis that has therapeutic value. Certain cannabinoids are better suited to treating certain issues, but a combination of cannabinoids is always better.

“It’s important to understand how they [CBD and THC] interact together and whether there are certain conditions that do better with more of one than the other… They’re both good for pain, both good for many inflammations, but you wouldn’t want to give somebody suffering anorexia, with an inability to eat, a CBD dominant remedy because that would dampen appetite. At the same time if someone’s dealing with obesity as an issue, a CBD dominant strain would be a better remedy. It’s important to know that, but it’s also important to emphasise that we never want a single molecule involved – we want the whole plant. Even if it’s just a little bit of THC or a little bit of CBD, that is better than a single molecule.”

This holistic approach to cannabis therapy sits well with us here. It’s been of great concern to this writer to observe the emergence of two cannabis cults: the cult of THC and the cult of CBD. By isolating these compounds and focusing on one rather than the other, we lose sight of what cannabis is: a plant with a range of therapeutic applications based on the interaction of a range of cannabinoids. It is not one compound that gives cannabis its therapeutic value, but a combination of many.

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