Differentiating cannabis products: Drugs, food, and supplements

Hemp? Cannabis? Marijuana? Industrial hemp? Salehi et al. note that terms like these and others are “a significant source of confusion for many,” not just in the public but also within industry, marketing, and other groups. This not only causes issues with communicating research clearly but also employing that research to best effect. As such, the authors of this paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, pose the important question, “What is essential for defining Cannabis as a food, supplement, or drug?” Salehi et al. answer this question by reviewing a wide swath of current study on the Cannabis plant and its derivatives, highlighting critical definitions, composition, production practices, and pharmacological effects as part of defining the essentials of Cannabis. The authors also go into its use in foods, drugs, and supplements, as well as regulatory status and testing methodologies. They conclude that “despite all of the recent advances, several cannabis topics remain to be addressed,” and addressing those topics will require more consistent terminology, greater understanding of the human endocannabinoid system, and a more consistent “platform for developing research about cannabis and related industries” within a number of countries.

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