Science

Therapeutic cannabis: the pharmacological challenges of a promising market

A few weeks after the vote on the law on the therapeutic use of cannabis, the report of the Special Commission on the Development Model (CSMD), a new framework for the dissemination of future legal standards in Morocco, highlighted the interest of its legalization for medical and industrial uses in Morocco, in order to promote the cultivation of cannabis, whose economic potential is promising.

The use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes will have a favorable economic impact for the country and for the producers. Like the global market for medical cannabis, which is growing nearly 20% annually and is expected to reach $ 57 billion by 2026, Morocco could raise some Dh100 billion in revenue from therapeutic cannabis on the horizon. 2023, according to a report from Banning Partners.

However, if the new law has been welcomed with open arms nationally and internationally by a large number of specialists, others, on the contrary, oppose it, listing the dangers that the therapeutic uses of this plant could generate. This is particularly the case in the latest study published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, which associates medical cannabis with a 44% increased risk of serious cardiovascular problems.

The study does not allow establishing a cause and effect link between medical cannabis and cardiovascular problems, but calls for caution, says Arsène Zongo, one of the researchers who developed this study, recalling that he did not. Scientific demonstration of the efficacy of medicinal cannabis for the vast majority of conditions for which it is prescribed.

The use of medicinal cannabis is not without risks, this is what emerges from this study. “Given the paucity of scientific evidence demonstrating the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, it is important that clinicians carefully evaluate the benefits and risks before prescribing it to their patients,” said Professor Zongo. It would be risky to prescribe it to people with known heart problems without guaranteeing a very close follow-up of these patients ”.

For his part, Dr. Tayeb Hamdi, physician, researcher in health policies and systems, president of the National Union of General Medicine, vice president of the National Health Federation, considers that this plant opens up new innovative therapeutic avenues in the treatment of various pathologies . “Therefore, it should not be seen as a threat or a competition, but as a therapeutic avenue to explore,” he said, calling for more scientific research to better understand the ins and outs of this thriving practice in Morocco.

Despite advances in pharmacological research and development in the world of drugs, there is still room for new substances, either because certain active substances are poorly tolerated or, on the contrary, cause addiction, or because of the appearance of new syndromes or resistant microbial strains, or even because up to now we have been powerless against a number of diseases.

“The drug market needed new substances and new drugs, so cannabis could provide new solutions to complement existing products, in particular to treat diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, asthma and many other pathologies. ”, Indicates the researcher.

Understanding the challenges faced by this industry could help Moroccan laboratories determine where to allocate and invest their budget, what programs and protocols to implement and what is the best way to gain global visibility on all aspects of this plant, its benefits and dangers.

“The same is the case with opium, which is classified as a narcotic and its use is highly regulated. It is a heroin-producing plant that is used as a drug and is prohibited, but it also produces morphine, which is a drug and a derivative whose discovery has made it possible to treat chronic pain. And this will also be the case with cannabis, scientific research should dissect the components of this plant to discover its benefits without condemning it ”.

A conviction linked to its use as a drug for a long time, “which has delayed the exploration of its medical aspect, now it is time to frame its culture, its transformation and its use.”

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