The National Cancer Institute reports, “Many clinical trials have shown that both dronabinol and nabilone worked as well as or better than some of the weaker FDA-approved drugs to relieve nausea and vomiting.” THC synthetics are promising for chemotherapy patients, but how do they compare to natural cannabis?
Here are some facts cancer patients should know when contemplating use of synthetic THC:
There are two FDA-approved synthetics for cancer patients: Marinol and Cesamet
Marinol, also called Dronabinol, is approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in cancer patients. It is also approved for the treatment of appetite loss in HIV/AIDS patients.
Cesamet, also called Nabilone, is only approved for the treatment of CINV.
Synthetic cannabis can be prescribed in all 50 states
Marinol and Cesamet are available by prescription in all 50 states. Medical cannabis is available by physician recommendation in 23 states and the District of Columbia. It’s available without a prescription in 4 of those states and the District of Columbia.
Synthetics consist of man-made THC
Synthetic THC may be less effective than natural cannabis
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, “Unfortunately, the only legal substitute [to marijuana] available now (Marinol) is not effective enough for many patients. I hear regularly from patients that the pill does not work as well as the natural herb, and causes much greater intoxication.”
Synthetics can be more psychoactive than natural cannabis
Synthetics can produce physical and mental sensations that feel similar to those produced by natural cannabis. Though it varies from person to person, some people say they experience an extreme high while others only have mild effects.
It takes longer to feel the effects of synthetic cannabinoid pills compared to inhaled natural cannabis
Dr. Earleywine of SUNY Albany states that “like any medication that’s swallowed, dronabinol takes a long time to digest and have its effects. Inhaled marijuana vapors can work markedly faster.”
Marinol and Cesamet should not be confused with “street synthetics” like K2 or Spice
K2 is one of the many names for synthetic marijuana that is sold illegally. These drugs consist of dried herbs sprayed with synthesized cannabinoids. They are often marketed as safe and natural, but have been the cause of multiple deaths.