New strain of plant possesses same pain-relieving qualities without intoxicating, numbing side effects
Good news for medicinal marijuana consumers: Israeli scientists have successfully developed the first strain of cannabis that doesn’t cause intoxication.
The unique strain was grown in the greenhouse of the medical cannabis company Tikun Olam, and tested by Professor Ruth Galili of the Hebrew University’s department of Immunology. The company has recently begun to offer the drug to patients eligible for medicinal marijuana treatment.
Noam, 30, of Tel Aviv, survived a car crash at the age of 13, and has been suffering from severe pain since. She discovered medical marijuana nine years ago, after experiencing withdrawal from painkillers.
“Cannabis brought me back to life, but it also made me sluggish and dizzy,” Noam said. “Two months ago I tried the new strain and it was love at first sight.” Noam testifies that the new cannabis has the same effect on her pain, but without blurring her mind.
Many plants produce chemicals to defend themselves from insects and other threats; the cannabis plant produces over 80 such active substances. The most famous is THC, a chemical that was first discovered in the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1964, and is responsible for the anesthetic effect that the drug is identified with.
THC creates euphoria, suppresses infections and reduces pain. It can also lead to increased activity of the brain, causing a general numbness of the senses. Tikun Olam opted to neutralize this effect and to amplify the role of another active chemical, CBD, which doesn’t cause blurriness and intoxication, and can also help with diabetes, relieve several psychiatric illnesses and perhaps even stop cancer from spreading.
Tzachi Klein, the head of development in Tikun Olam, said that many patients who received the new strain thought at first that they were mistreated. The plant has the same taste, smell and shape of the original plant, but contains practically no intoxicating substances and does not icrease the urge to eat.
Nevertheless, it is not expected to be rendered legal, since marijana use is unlawful in Israel regardless of its specific components.
By Daniel Edelson