Prescribed Plant Based vs Illegal Sources

December 16, 2023

Anyone that has considered plant-based therapy has probably also considered the various illegal or black-market sources of cannabis in its various forms. Why go through all the red tape and extra cost, you may well ask.

They both come from the same plant, but the way they get to the end user, and their content may be very different. Cannabis has two main sub species of plant, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica. They both have over 60-100 types of cannabinoids and hundreds of non-cannabinoid chemicals such as terpenes, amino acids, phenols, alkaloids and others, in varying proportions. These chemicals are found in the leaves, flowers and buds. The growing conditions and method of extraction also influence the proportions of the complex active components of these plants. These can be analysed and purified by qualified and licensed facilities. Compare this to a backyard illegal supply. There is simply no way of knowing the content or proportions of the various actives in illegally supplied cannabis.

The production and cultivation of medical cannabis is strictly controlled in Australia. A licence and permit is required from the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control, under the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967. Manufacturers also require a Good Manufacturing Practice licence from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The individual State departments of Health also regulate the sale by wholesale of any medicinal cannabis products.

Needless to say, these tight controls provide a network of safety to ensure reliability and certainty of the content and purity of medicinal cannabis that is surely lacking in black market sources.

Smoking is the usual way of ingesting illegal cannabis and as is well known, has inherent risks. Whether tobacco or cannabis, smoking exposes the user to toxic byproducts of combustion such as particulate irritants, carcinogens and tar. The high temperatures required for smoking are known to destroy some of the therapeutic effects of the plant. This can be completely avoided by using others methods of ingestion such as vaporizing, capsules, drops or sprays.

Smoking cannabis can make symptoms of COPD or any lung disease worse, and increase the risk of damage to the lungs over time, increase mucous production, and cause wheezing and coughing. All these problems can be avoided by other means of using regulated medicinal forms.

Your doctor will consider your medical history, clinical needs and personal preference when deciding on the best way for you to use plant-based medicine. They all have different indications and considerations. Oral routes and absorbed more slowly and the effects can last longer. Vaporisation avoids the gastric system altogether and acts more quickly but the effects are shorter lived.

If your desire is to find an alternative treatment that works consistently for you, and your health and safety matters, then the clear answer is to say no thanks to illegal cannabis.