Medical Marijuana - Medical, Legal, Social and Political Issues
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Comprehensive Cannabis Course Topic I: The Endocannabinoid System and Phytocannabinoids

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS):


In order to fully appreciate the rationale for the clinical use of medical cannabis, it is essential that one has knowledge of the endocannabinoid system, an endogenous regulating system found in all vertebrates (1, 2).  It is also important to understand the clinical sequelae that might develop as a result of endocannabinoid system dysfunction.


It has been proposed that a properly functioning endogenous cannabinoid system is essential for good health and that certain disease types may be the result of deficiencies within this system (3). "Modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system … hold[s] therapeutic promise in a wide range of disparate diseases and pathological conditions, ranging from mood and anxiety disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome and osteoporosis, to name just a few" (4).  In this introductory section, we will discuss the endocannabinoid system, Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome and phytocannabinoids.


For more information, please review The Medical Use of Marijuana Course Table of Contents.


Editors' Note:  Medical marijuana has become an important area of study in healthcare. Doctors and healthcare professionals must understand the medical, legal, social and political issues to best respond to their patients' questions and attend to their needs.  This content area is not intended to encourage or dissuade the use of medical marijuana, but has been created to provide a balanced portrayal of the research in this area.

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This syllabus content additionally qualifies for the following CME designations: Medical Marijuana, Pain Medicine, Palliative Care