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World’s Leading Experts Issue Standards On Cannabis, Restore Classification As Botanical Medicine


red cross marijuana leafAmerican Herbal Pharmacopoeia monograph lays scientific foundation for quality assurance and expanded research

By Kris Hermes

In an historic move, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) released the first installation of a two-part Cannabis monograph yesterday that classifies cannabis (marijuana) as a botanical medicine, alongside many other widely accepted Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Written and reviewed by the world’s leading experts, the Cannabis monograph brings together an authoritative compendium of scientific data, including long-awaited standards for the plant’s identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties. The monograph provides a foundation for health care professionals to integrate cannabis therapy into their practices on the basis of a full scientific understanding of the plant, its constituent components, and its biologic effects.

“The inclusion of cannabis in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia returns the plant to its place alongside as a proven botanical medicine, which has been used for centuries by countries and cultures around the world,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, which helped support the development of the Cannabis monograph. “Health care professionals, researchers and regulators now have the tools to develop effective public health programs for medical marijuana and to further explore its therapeutic benefits.” ASA will host a Google Hangout on Thursday, December 12th at 5:30pm PT, featuring a panel of experts discussing the ramifications of the Cannabis monograph and a new Cannabis certification program.

The first Cannabis monograph was introduced in the 3rd edition of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1851, where it remained until the 12th edition in 1942, making the AHP monograph the first of its kind in more than 70 years. Cannabis medicines were produced by Eli Lilly and other American pharmaceutical companies until the federal Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 sharply reduced U.S. cannabis production and prescriptions.

AHP began development of a Cannabis monograph in 2011 in part because of a need for validated standards to guide laboratory analysis for quality control of cannabis and related products. However, AHP also recognized that the expanding use of medical marijuana makes accurate information regarding appropriate use and safety important for health care decisions. Patients, providers, and regulators will also benefit from proven testing standards that can quantify the key chemical compounds, or cannabinoids, that are tied to the plant’s therapeutic effects, as well as identify potentially harmful pesticides, metals, and microbes.

The Cannabis monograph was reviewed by the world’s leading researchers and represents one of the most comprehensive and critically reviewed documents on cannabis in recent times. Much of the information was developed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Mississippi under the guidance of Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, who oversees the only federally legal source of medical marijuana in the U.S.

The Therapeutic Compendium, the second installment of the cannabis monograph due out this spring, will document the thousands of years of therapeutic cannabis use around the world and describe the totality of modern research on how cannabis directly treats a broad range of conditions and symptoms. It will encompass historical data, pre-clinical and clinical pharmacology, indications, contraindications, side effects, dosing, preparations, safety, use in pregnancy, and interactions with conventional medications, among other fields of information.

“The adoption of Cannabis into the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia as a safe, effective and low-cost botanical medicine is a testament to this human-plant relationship and a significant footprint on the trail towards acknowledgment as such by a much broader audience,” said Dr. Michelle Sexton, one of the authors and reviewers of the Cannabis monograph who is a Naturopathic Doctor, herbalist, educator and clinical Cannabis researcher. Dr. Sexton is currently the Medical Research Director at the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy.

AHP was formed in 1995 to promote the responsible use of herbal products and herbal medicines. AHP is a worldwide network of botanists, chemists, herbalists, medical doctors, pharmacists, pharmacologists, and other experts in medicinal plants. AHP has published monographs for 28 different botanicals, including Aloe Vera Leaf, American Ginseng Root, and Echinacea. The organization expects to eventually publish more than 300 monographs, covering the most widely used western, Ayurvedic, and Chinese botanicals.

Later this week, ASA will launch Patient Focused Certification (PFC), a third-party certification program for the medical cannabis industry based on the AHP Cannabis monograph and new quality standards for medical cannabis products and businesses issued by the American Herbal Products Association. PFC certification and professional training will be available in all 20 medical marijuana states and the District of Columbia.

Further information:
Cannabis monograph (Abridged version): http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ahp_cannabis_monograph_preview
FAQ for Cannabis Monograph: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/cannabis_monograph_faq_pdf
Info on American Herbal Pharmacopoeia: http://www.herbal-ahp.org/overview.htm

Press Release From Americans For Safe Access


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  1. greed is probably the best word, the government can’t fund wars unless there continues to be taxes paid to “help the war on drugs”,…. ignorance- -definately. if you wanna stop terrorism or drug cartels , grow your own stuff,
    i get WHY that is so hard for people to understand

  2. Marijuana reform has been burned by “medical marijuana” forces too often now for me to see these endless paragraphs about detailed medical benefits without a jaundiced eye.

    Medical marijuana is important, but it is a small side issue to the monstrously destructive fraud of prohibition. A counter-productive fraud that destroys the lives of 800,000 good Americans every year, and terrorizes millions more.

    There are now so many vested interests in medical marijuana – interests that will lose out big when marijuana is re-legalized for all adults.

    All consumers should find out for sure where their dispensaries stand on legalization initiatives. If they can’t get a promise of support for all initiatives, it’s time to boycott any and all such vendors!

  3. Cannabis is rightfully on the road to its full rehabilitation as a Panacea, which humanity and all other life forms have a right to benefit by … GREAT WORK, AHP !!!

  4. This is how we should be pushing the image of marijuana. It is nothing like alcohol, especially compared to the harm alcohol causes. Marijuana kills 0 people a year and is a benefit to your health, especially when it is vaporized or is ingested as a food. It is an herbal medicine, like chamomile, sage, echinacea, st. john’s wort, etc. Its leaves can also be eaten as a raw vegetable and thrown onto your salad. Marijuana was demonized out of ignorance, fear, and greed.

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