Archer, you are the resident drug expert, so a pot question. Hard to get a decent answer between the hardliner stoner "pot is great and cures cancer and creates kittens" and the anti drug "pot kills kittens and leads to you shooting up heroin with dirty hooker needles"...and I can't be bothered to go through the literature for hours for something of only tangential interest, but what i read on your link quickly verified my understanding.
My current understanding of the medical lit around it is that that there are some therapeutic uses for pain relief, but extended use does cause less dopamine and as such, lower levels of motivation. And additionally, it is being smoked, which brings very similar effects as tobacco, other than nicotine related stuff. Correct? or something you want to add?
There are many therapeutic uses of cannabis, only one has passed clinical trials to the best of my knowledge and that is in the treatment of naturopathic pain and spasticity caused in Multiple Sclerosis.
There are many papers which allude to the fact that cannabis can be used to treat cancer or indeed numerous conditions, however for every one of these I can find one which shows equal or better efficacy from another natual product. These all tend to be in vitro
testing which we all know is an inroad into further work but not definitive proof of in vivo
There is one
paper that I have seen which describes clinical treatment of Leukemia with cannabis, successfully reducing the blast cell count of an individual in the latter stages of the disease where all other forms of chemotherapy had failed. Sadly the patient still died and the massive doses of THC that they were taking are unimaginably high compared to a recreational dose. At one point they were administering the equivalent of 7.5 grams of cannabis (in the form of a concentrated extract) in a single dose!http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/356446
Of course this is promising but those of us who understand these things realise the limitations of a study on a population size n=1.
The major trouble with cannabis as a medicine is that the route of administration is the all important factor. Smoking any drug which has euphoric properties is discouraged in the medical profession as it leads to misuse and addiction. This is why opium is no longer available in its raw state and is purified to morphine and numerous down stream products. Rapid onset of euphoria is preferably avoided so there are the options of eating or the use of an oromucosal spray. However some people claim that this does not work for them and only smoking works for them.
There is also evidence of a synergism between the cannabinoids and the essential oil of the plant. which complicates matters even further.
There is a common misconception that a the human endogenous cannabinoid system means that we are genetically predisposed to enjoy cannabis. On the contrary, the cannabinoid receports CB1 and CB2 were discovered after cannabis but before the endocrine cannabinoids, anadamide and 1-aracadonylglycerol. The naming is serendipitous. Much like the opiate receptors and in contrast to serotonin receptors which may have been called the MDMA receptors or the GABA receptors called the Benzodiazepine receptors.
To summerise, it is a promising medicine which most likely has even more potential yet to be realised. However there is always going to be controversy over the use of herbal material as a prescription medicine. Standardised extracts are available but the cost is very high compared to the standardised herbal material.