Marijuana Without the High
Whether or not to legalize marijuana is an ongoing national conversation. While there have been proponents of decriminalization for years, not until the push to use marijuana for medical treatment of pain has the idea really gotten any traction. Many point to the seemingly fruitless anti-drug campaigns over several decades as a reason to consider legalization, but it is on the basis of medical uses that marijuana proponents have managed to nudge open the door for accepting its use carte blanche.
In the United States, marijuana is now legal as a medical treatment for pain in 17 states and the District of Columbia. At the moment, six other states are considering legislation that would make medical marijuana use legal within their borders. Similar to the U.S., marijuana continues to be an illegal substance in Israel, but has been made legally available there for medical purposes for more than 15 years. Still, only around 9,000 Israeli patients have so far been granted permission to use marijuana for medical reasons. So it is a bit surprising that a new development in marijuana production is coming from Israel. Not only that, but it is a development with the potential to be a game-changer in the marijuana debate.
Israeli researchers say that work begun in 2009 has finally yielded fruit. According to news reports, they have successfully created a marijuana plant which could be used for pain management without the patient feeling ‘stoned’ or ‘high’. The new strain, called Avidekel, contains less of the compound (THC) which produces the feelings of euphoria and close to 16 percent of the compound (CBD) which produces an anti-inflammatory response. As a result, say the scientists, users experience all the pain relief and none of the other sensations.
If Avidekel were to receive U.S. approval for medicinal use it seems as though the trick would be in finding a way for police and other law enforcement officials to detect the difference between legal and illegal varieties. Some have suggested using additives which could produce a different and distinct odor when smoked. High-less marijuana could prove a boon to the medicinal marijuana movement, but it would certainly prove to be a difficult problem for authorities.
Israeli doctors say that Avidekel’s high-less effects would be appropriate for treating a range of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, colitis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or liver inflammation. It remains to be seen how Avidekel may impact the dialogue about decriminalization of marijuana. Research would also need to be done to see how addictive this new form of marijuana would be.