Cannabinoids – naturally found in cannabis – and the human endocannabinoid system are proving to be an intriguing target for drug discovery. But what is the real value of this ancient medicine?
By Stephanie Sutton and James Strachan.
“It is beyond my comprehension that any humane person would withhold such a beneficial substance from people in such great need simply because others use it for different purposes.”
– Steven Gould, American sci-fi author
Cannabis leads a double life. On one hand, it is a recreational drug, the regular use of which has been linked with lower fertility (1), increased risk of psychotic illness (2), and, for heavy adolescent users, impaired intellectual development (3). On the other hand – looking beyond the smoke and the stoners – it has been used medically for thousands of years. Cannabis is one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine, and its use has been traced to ancient Egypt, India, and Greece, among others.