High-Free Medical Marijuana

Israeli researchers create a marijuana strain that maximizes pain relief while minimizing the high.

Jul 5, 2012
Hayley Dunning

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS, EGGROLE

Cannabis contains cannabidiol (CBD), which, some studies have shown, has anti-inflammatory properties, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which induces a high. Tikun Olam, a company that grows marijuana in Israel, where the plant is legal for medical purposes, has developed a variant that likely contains the highest CBD to THC ratio yet. The strain, named Avidekel, contains less than one percent THC, and nearly 16 percent CBD.

“Sometimes the high is not always what they need,” Tikum Olam’s head of development Zack Klein told Reuters. “Sometimes it is an unwanted side effect. For some of the people it’s not even pleasant.”

Medical marijuana is currently used by around 9,000 people in Israel, who hold licenses to use the drug to treat ailments such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and the unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy. Researchers at Hebrew University are already studying the effects of Avidekel on mice, with plans to move the herb into human trials later this year. However, patients who hold licences are already able to try the drug.

Studies on the potential benefits of smoking cannabis are more difficult to conduct in the US, but some researchers are braving the bureaucratic obstacles. Read more about medical marijuana in this month’s Alternative Medicines feature.