The FDA is greenlighting the prescription of a new liquid THC solution, but only for patients in really rough shape. Syndros, a synthetic cannabinoid for oral use put out by the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics, Inc., is to be prescribed for treating anorexia in AIDS patients and vomiting and nausea in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy treatment, according to a press release.
Interesting to note is that, while plant-derived cannabis products are still Schedule I controlled substances in the U.S., some synthetic cannabis products like Marinol, are Schedule III, meaning they can be prescribed by a doctor instead of “recommended” like organic cannabis in medical marijuana programs. Syndros itself is yet to be officially scheduled, but will likely end up in the same category as Marinol.
Syndros and Marinol are both what’s called dronabinol products, meaning they’re made of synthetic test tube THC. That means their side effects should be pretty similar to old fashioned THC in old fashioned plant cannabis, the big difference being that the new age lab THC does not have the benefit of what’s termed “Entourage Effect.” That effect, some researchers posit, is that THC and CBD are much more effective when consumed in conjunction with the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and what-have-yous that compose the marijuana plant.
When covering this story, High Times pointed out that famed cannabis scientist Dr. Sanjay Gupta much preferred organic cannabis to its synthetic counterpoint. “When the drug became available in the mid-1980s, scientists thought it would have the same effect as the whole cannabis plant. But it soon became clear that most patients preferred using the whole plant to taking Marinol,” Gupta told CNN. “Researchers began to realize that other components, such as CBD, might have a larger role than previously realized.”
So, THC grown in the soil and puffed in a joint is still a Schedule I narcotic, just like heroin or LSD, but a less effective and more elaborately processed synthetic version can be prescribed by a doctor, making it just one of the many paradoxes of marijuana law in this country. However, it’s very possible that, as medical and recreational marijuana programs expand in the states, pale pharmaceutical imitation products like Syndros will become obsolete and disappear from the marketplace.