What is CBD, and why should you care?

The cannabis plant is native to Central and South Asia and has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic (spiritual, religious or ritualistic)  practices, as well as in various traditional medicines for centuries.

CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, but is derived directly from the hemp plant instead of the marijuana plant. Hemp can be described as a cousin of the marijuana plant. The two plants belong to the same plant  group. Both Hemp and Marijuana belong in the group of plants known as Cannabis sativa cultivars. CBD can also be manufactured in a laboratory.

CBD is only one of the over 483 compounds found in Hemp. It does not cause a “high” when consumed. The compound that causes the ‘high’ is known as Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is present in very minute amounts in Hemp compared to Marijuana, which has a higher content of THC. 

The THC in cannabis has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria, an altered state of mind and sense of time, difficulty concentrating, impaired short-term memory, impaired body movement and an increase in appetite.

Medicinal use of Cannabis

Cannabis was an illegal drug in most countries until 2013, when Uruguay became the first country to legalize its use. In recent times, cannabis has increasingly been legalized in a number of countries for both medical and recreational purposes. 

The use of CBD for medicinal purposes gained momentum in the 1980s when research proved that it seemed to provide some benefits to epileptic patients. Since then, medical research has supported the benefits of CBD for patients of various medical conditions such as chronic pain, epilepsy, and numerous neurodegenerative diseases.

The World Health Organization, in one of their reports given by the committee on drug dependence in Geneva in 2017 on the subject, state that, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” This has paved the way for many medical and pharmacological companies to establish or enhance their research into the production of potential CBD drugs for the treatment of various health conditions.

There is some evidence supporting the use of CBD or its derivatives in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain, and multiple sclerosis. There is also evidence to support its use for AIDS, the body wasting syndrome, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and glaucoma. However, further research is needed to verify the efficacy of CBD to provide an enhanced support for the treatment of symptoms in these conditions.

The application and use of CBD for medicinal purpose has seen exponential growth over the last decade. This trend is led by the US market, where the CBD market is projected to grow to over 22 billion USD by the end of 2022. Many countries are also considering the legalization of the farming of the cannabis plant for the production of CBD for medical and other commercial purposes.

The use of Cannabis in Ghana

In 2020, the parliament of Ghana passed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill into Law under the Narcotics Control Commission Act, 2020 (Act 1019) which President Akufo-Addo signed into law. The new law decriminalizes the production and use of medical cannabis. This is evident in the type of cannabis (hemp) that can be cultivated under the licence. The legislation allows for the farming of cannabis for industrial and medical purposes only.

However, the legislative instrument to guide the licensing, cultivation and standard practice for cannabis farming has not been approved yet and so it remains illegal to farm cannabis.

Hemp is a botanical class of the Cannabis sativa cultivars group of plants, grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use. It is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. The fibre from the plant can be refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, rope, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed. Extracts from the plant have many medicinal and recreational applications.

The legalization and commercialization of Cannabis presents a new opportunity for the Ghanaian pharmaceutical industry to research into the production and use of CBD and possibly produce CBD-related drugs for both the local and regional markets.

The takeaway

Many patients suffering from debilitating pain conditions and psychiatric and Psychological conditions could benefit from CBD-related treatments. This would be revolutionary for both the pharmaceutical and medical industries worldwide. 

Ghana could benefit immensely from the economic and health prospects of commercializing Cannabis. The government should therefore seek out public-private partnerships to explore this opportunity.

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February 4, 2022