General Article Is medical cannabis really a magic bullet?

Topic Selected: Cannabis Book Volume: 399

In 2017, Mikael Sodergren, a liver and pancreatic cancer surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, was finding himself becoming increasingly interested in the potential role of medical cannabis in treating pain, especially the discomfort experienced by patients after complex operations.

‘I hope that I do a lot of good, but unfortunately in the short term, I inflict a lot of pain with cancer surgery,’ says Sodergren. ‘So we’re reliant on pretty nasty painkillers, such as high-strength intravenous opioids, which we’re trying to move away from. They slow patients down and they cause complications.’

Sodergren was far from alone. Over the past 15 years, an increasing number of scientists have become interested in the potential benefits of medical cannabis for treating all kinds of illness, from multiple sclerosis to anxiety, sleep disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The reason is that phytocannabinoids – chemicals that occur naturally in the cannabis plant – bind to rec...

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