The use of cannabis, including cannabinoids for medical products, has been catching interest around the world. Because of the growing amount of evidence suggesting cannabis can offer a range of benefits to patients, the WHO has recently begun gathering scientific evidence to decide whether it’s right that these products should be subject to international control and drug laws.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemicals found in marijuana plants. They have been found to have medicinal benefits to patients suffering from a range of conditions, but their use has received some criticism, mostly due to concerns that it could lead to dependence or other health problems. However, an initial review from the WHO has suggested that they are “not likely to be abused or create dependence”, and that they pose very little threat to the public health.
The committee meeting at the end of last year was set up to evaluate several psychoactive substances and assess their risk to the public. Although cannabidiol (CBD) is due to have its full assessment in May, the initial consensus from the meeting was that international laws and controls that are prohibiting its use are unnecessary.
The report took into account the medicinal benefits of CBD, along with the potential side effects or health problems it could cause. Clinical trials have shown that pure CBD can be successfully used as treatment for a range of conditions. One of these conditions is epilepsy, where it has shown to reduce the number of seizures, even in patients who haven’t responded to any other types of medication. The authors of the report wrote:”CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. To date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health related problems associated.”
On the other hand, the authors of the report have strongly urged that carfentanil, which is a synthetic opioid, is becoming one of the biggest health risks to the public and tighter controls should be imposed on its use. The report pointed out that carfentanil is a drug which has a high risk of dependence in users, as well as having the possibility to produce very serious or fatal side effects.
The drug, which is around 100 times stronger than the opioid fentanyl, has been blamed for surging number of opioid deaths around the world. The WHO also noted that even very small amounts of the drug can cause lethal side effects in users. Considering that opioids already cause an estimated 190,000 premature deaths a year globally, making sure the public are protected from harm is of high priority.