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CHECK Berlin #1

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EN CURING WITH CANNABIS Interview with Melanie Dolfen, owner of the BezirksApotheken (Pharmacies) What is medicinal cannabis? Medical cannabis or medicinal hemp means the therapeutic use of the hemp plant with its cannabinoid active ingredients. These ingredients are used in the form of dried flowers, but also as full-spectrum extracts or mono preparations (meaning a single pill with only one or several active ingredients) that only contain dronabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) or a combination of both cannabinoids. Currently, there are around 40 different varieties on the German market. What is the difference to “normal“ grass? Actually, there is none. Medical hemp is grown under special conditions in state-of-the-art and certified greenhouses. The product is constantly tested for composition and active ingredient content. It’s not contaminated by environmental pollution or modified. That’s because the most important prerequisite for use in medical therapy is standardization to guarantee a consistent composition and stable active ingredient content. Why is there such a big difference in price? The controlled cultivation of cannabis is subject to strict safety requirements. This is a big challenge for the manufacturer. Not many farms manage to get permission to grow medical marijuana. In addition, as with all plants, harvests are not guaranteed. At the moment, every flower has to be imported, because cultivation is not allowed everywhere. With a strictly controlled natural product, this means great effort and high costs. Pharmacists who offer medicinal cannabis must document each receipt and delivery of the flowers according to precise regulations. Then the goods have to be extensively checked for identity and the content must be verified. Finally, it is repacked for delivery. Specially trained experts are required for this. And, of course, the pharmacy has to pay taxes on the flowers just like on any other commodity. Thanks to these strict controls from cultivation to delivery, the patients always know for sure what they are taking. With a dealer on the street, on the other hand, you never know exactly what you will get. There’s no control system, only profit. Because quality is not an issue, it becomes more common or even normal to sell contaminated goods or to mix in other products to stretch the cannabis. 8 CHECK | AUSGABE 1

EN What diseases can be treated with it? Medicinal cannabis has an incredibly broad spectrum of effects. Unfortunately, due to the decades-long ban, clinical studies and experience reports, which are normally used as guidelines for use on patients, are missing. Also, not all of the plant‘s ingredients have been researched. At the moment it is only possible to infer certain effects for the known main active ingredients. So far, the most common uses for medical cannabis are chronic pain (chronic and neuropathic diseases), but not acute pain. Furthermore, muscle spasms and cramps, severe nausea and vomiting (also due to medication), loss of appetite and emaciation (as a result of chemotherapy, for example) and sleep disorders. Dronabinol is known for its ability to increase appetite and can help with weight gain and maintenance. Many other uses are conceivable, and some are already treated with medicinal cannabis in individual cases, but we are still at the beginning. How are the cannabis flowers used? The flowers are applied orally or inhaled via a vaporizer. Orally, usually as a full spectrum cannabis extract or single preparation, such as oily dronabinol solutions, which are manufactured individually for the patient in the pharmacy. When inhaling, the flowers are vaporized through the use of a pen. By heating to approx. 200 degrees, an inhalable aerosol of the ingredients is created. Therapy is started at the lowest dose to prevent unwanted side effects. Every patient reacts differently and must find out the right dose and form of application together with their doctor. The dose is then gradually increased in accordance with the respective patient until the symptoms or the illness-related complaints improve. (cm) BezirksApotheke – Schwerpunktapotheke Medizinalcannabis Rathausstr. 5 10178 Berlin CHECK | AUSGABE 1 9

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