Drug Testing and Analysis, 2013, 5, (1), 46-51
The medical properties of cannabis have been known for many centuries; its first documented use dates back to 2800 BC when it was described for its hallucinogenic and pain-relieving properties. In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of pharmaceutical companies marked cannabis for indications such as asthma and pain, but since then its use has sharply declined, mainly due to its unpredictable effects, but also for socio-political issues. Recently, great attention has been directed to the medical properties of phytocannabinoids present in the cannabis plant alongside the main constituent Δ⁹-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); these include cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Evidence suggests an association between cannabis and schizophrenia: schizophrenics show a higher use of marijuana as compared to the healthy population. Additionally, the use of marijuana can trigger psychotic episodes in schizophrenic patients, and this has been ascribed to THC. Given the need to reduce the side effects of marketed antipsychotics, and their weak efficacy on some schizophrenic symptoms, cannabinoids have been suggested as a possible alternative treatment for schizophrenia. CBD, a non-psychoactive constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant, has been receiving growing attention for its anti-psychotic-like properties. Evidence suggests that CBD can ameliorate positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Behavioural and neurochemical models suggest that CBD has a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical anti-psychotic drugs and a clinical trial reported that this cannabinoid is a well-tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenia.