The makers of the synthetic THC capsule Marinol - the only legal cannabinoid drug available in the United States - are developing a metered dose inhaler so that patients may consume the drug in ways other than oral administration, according to a Business Wire report released this week. Many doctors and patients criticize the effectiveness of Marinol because the drug doesn't take effect until two to four hours after administration. Patients also complain that they have difficulty self-regulating Marinol and that the drug's psychoactivity is enhanced when it is swallowed.
"This decision is an acknowledgement from the scientific and pharmaceutical community that inhalation is a preferred and effective route of administration for marijuana cannabinoids," said Paul Armentano, Director of Publications and Research for The NORML Foundation and author of the white paper: "The Need for Medical Marijuana Despite the Availability of Synthetic THC." "Patients routinely say that they prefer marijuana inhalation over oral administration because whole-smoked marijuana is faster acting, less upsetting to their stomachs, easier to self-regulate and less psychoactive."
Because oral THC must first pass through the human liver, where a significant portion of the drug is biotransformed into other, more potent chemicals, it takes effect far more slowly than inhaled marijuana and is often more psychoactive.
GW Pharmaceuticals, a London based company developing non-synthetic medicinal marijuana extracts, has already developed technology that allows patients to administer cannabinoids in a sublingual (under-the-tongue) spray as an alternative to smoking or swallowing.
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.