Opponents of Amendment 2, the push to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, say patients who want weed can get it. They just need a prescription to Marinol, the FDA-approved drug made by German pharma giant AbbVie.
Marinol, which has been marketed for years to patients with AIDS and cancer, is a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound in pot that makes users feel high.
But is manmade THC effective? One patient who has tried it says no.
The lung cancer patient — who spoke to The Palm Beach Post but requested his name not be published because he uses illegal marijuana to treat side effects of chemotherapy — says Marinol failed to alleviate his nausea and lack of appetite.
“It really did nothing for me,” he said.
The patient, who lives in Broward County, said he does get relief from a natural form of marijuana that includes both natural THC and also cannabadiol, or CBD.
An AbbVie spokesman said he “cannot speculate on the specific patient” we interviewed.
Medical marijuana hasn’t been subjected to the same “gold standard” gantlet of research required of Marinol. A longstanding federal prohibition on marijuana has hampered scientific research, and doctors are just beginning to understand the therapeutic effects of pot.
Some cannabis experts say a single synthetic form of THC doesn’t provide the same benefit as the “entourage effect” offered by the plant.
“Any sort of manufactured derivative is not going to be the same as the whole plant,” said Gregg H. Weiss, founder of Canna Holdings in Wellington. “There’s over 100 different terpenes in whatever strain you get that you cannot produce in a lab.”