“The force of the recent explosion of largely unproven and unregulated cannabis-based preparations on medical therapeutics may have its greatest impact in the field of neurology.
Paradoxically, for 10 millennia this plant has been an integral part of human cultivation, where it was used for its fibers long before its pharmacological properties.
With regard to the latter, cannabis was well known to healers from China and India thousands of years ago; Greek and Roman doctors during classic times; Arab doctors during the Middle Ages; Victorian and Continental physicians in the nineteenth century; American doctors during the early twentieth century; and English doctors until 1971 when a variety of nonevidence-based remedies were removed from the British Pharmaceutical Codex.
The clinical data on cannabis therapeutics are meager and the vast majority are formed by surveys or small studies that are underpowered and/or suffer from multiple methodological flaws, often by virtue of limited research funding for nonaddiction-focused studies. Thus, we know relatively little about the clinical efficacy of cannabinoids for the various neurological disorders for which historical nonscientific and medical literature have advocated its use.
The relative scarcity of proven cannabis-based therapies is not due to data that show that cannabinoids are ineffective or unsafe, but rather reflects a poverty of medical interest and a failure by pharmaceutical companies arising from regulatory restrictions compounded by limits for patent rights on plant cannabinoid-containing preparations that have been used medicinally for millennia, as is the case for most natural products.
We are pleased to have gathered many of the world’s experts together on the basic biology of cannabinoids, as well as their potential role in treating neurologic and psychiatric disorders…
We hope that this issue of Neurotherapeutics will serve to mark the bounds of verifiable scientific knowledge of cannabinoids in the treatment of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. At the same time, our contributors have also helped identify areas for future research, as well as the strategies needed to move our base of knowledge forward.
We hope that this volume will help to accelerate the pace of the appropriately focused and productive research and double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trials to the point at which the care of patients is informed by valid data and not just anecdote.”