Cannabis. It seems that this drug above all others causes the most debate and controversy, especially over whether or not it should be legalised in the UK. One of the arguments for legalisation is the fact that the active chemicals in the drug (cannabinoids) have been proven to have medicinal properties.
A drug called Sativex was the first cannabis-based drug to get regulatory approval and has been used in Canada since 2005 to treat muscle stiffness in people with MS. It was announced last week that will be given regulatory approval for distribution in the UK by the end of next month.
This PowerPoint can be used as a starter when learning about how and why drugs are tested before becoming approved and prescribed. Even though Sativex is made by a company in the UK, it has taken a long time to get to this point – why is this?
Two cannabinoids found in cannabis (THC and CBD) may have many future medical applications including inhibiting tumour growth, pain relief in cancer patients and anti-psychotic properties. Students can discuss how clinical trials are important before any new drugs based on these chemicals will be available and how long that is likely to take.
Most of the drugs we use today are based on chemicals extracted from plants, many of which have been used by people for thousands of years. The video below shows how the active ingredients are extracted from cannabis and can be used as a useful starting point when discussing this.