What is Medicinal Cannabis?

Cannabis as a plant contains over 100 chemicals, each of which has a different effect on the body. These chemicals are called cannabinoids

When it comes to the medicinal use of cannabis, the most common cannabinoids you will hear about are CBD and THC. Both CBD and THC interact with a person's body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have different effects.

CBD is an abbreviation of cannabidiol. CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, meaning that it does not cause the ‘high’ associated with recreational use of cannabis.

THC is an abbreviation of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is the chemical that produces the ‘high’.

The term ‘cannabis-based medicine’ refers to authorised (licensed) medications that contain CBD and/or THC and/or other cannabinoids. To date, the only cannabis-based medicine for epilepsy is Epidyolex.

Another common term is ‘cannabis-based product’. This term refers to any product which is not an authorised medicine but which contains CBD, THC or other cannabinoids. Some cannabis-based products will contain both CBD and THC.

CBD on its own is legal in Ireland, commonly marketed as a food supplement. However, products or substances containing THC are generally illegal in Ireland under the Misuse of Drugs Act, with certain limited exceptions.

Important note: please talk to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse if you are using or considering using any cannabis-based product. 

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