In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex (cannabidiol or CBD) from GW Pharmaceuticals. Epidiolex is an oral solution for patients two years and older to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome — two severe forms of seizures that begin in childhood.
Note: some states may have passed laws but still may be in the process of finalizing procedures and rules surrounding distribution.
Epidiolex: use in childhood seizures
Cannabis may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including:
Common or street names: Bud, ganja, grass, hashish, hemp, Indian hemp, marijuana, pot, reefer, weed.
For more information see: Marijuana
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol, one of the two chemicals—among the dozens in cannabis—that have the most health benefits. The other, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produces the psychoactive effects described as being “high.” CBD oil generally does not contain THC, although some trace amounts may be present in products sold in certain states.
CBD oil should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A 2018 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics warned women to avoid marijuana during pregnancy due to the potential risks to a baby’s development. Although it is unclear how CBD contributes, CBD is known to pass through the placental barrier.
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Many of these interactions are mild and require no adjustment to treatment. Others may require a drug substitution or the separation of doses by several hours.
Outside of these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness in treating seizures is uncertain. Even with Epidiolex, it is uncertain whether the anti-seizure effects can be attributed to CBD or some other factor.
According to a 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, rats injected with inflammatory chemicals in their hind feet experienced less inflammation and neuropathic pain when treated with an oral dose and spinal injection of CBD.
Synthetic THC pills like nabilone and dronabinol (Marinol) are made with compounds that imitate the effects of natural cannabinoids. Although nabilone and dronabinol are designed to mimic cannabis, they are federally legal medications regulated by the FDA while cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I drug. Both nabilone and dronabinol are used to medicate chemotherapy-induced nausea. Because they lack the synergy between naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant, these synthetic cannabinoid therapies tend to have more severe side effects than whole-plant cannabis products.
No frills medicine. THC pills are easier to see as medicine than delicious treats that make consumers happy in more ways than one. Unlike many edibles, THC pills aren’t packaged in the empty calories offered by ultra-sweet and fatty foods. One of the challenges of consuming safe quantities of edibles is that it’s hard to resist the rest of the 100 mg THC cookie when you’ve got the munchies. But THC pills are pretty boring, so you likely won’t be tempted to take another one for its flavor.
The Effects of THC Pills
Potency. Finally, cannabinoids that are ingested orally can provide a much more potent experience than inhaled cannabis. For one, ingested cannabis has a more greatly enhanced bioavailability than inhaled weed because cannabinoids and terpenes are not destroyed by the heat of combustion or vaporization. Secondly, the THC metabolite synthesized by the stomach and liver (11-hydroxy-THC) is actually more potent than the THC absorbed from inhalation. The benefit of this potency is stronger and more long-lasting relief from debilitating symptoms.
Discretion. Cannabis is a stinky therapy, but THC pills are far less fragrant than inhalable weed. This makes them an appealing option for consumers who don’t want to have to worry about how their medicine will make them smell. Since one of the adverse effects of THC is paranoia, it can be beneficial to consume a product that offers discretion if you are likely to become anxious about public perception.
However, it is possible to overconsume THC. Too much THC can induce the following adverse reactions: