Experts say that the medical marijuana drug to treat cancer patients from pain, which is not yet approved by the FDA, has very little potential for abuse because it takes too long to take effect.
As reported in MyHealthNewsDaily, GW Pharmaceuticals is currently running the drug through testing and plans to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration once trials are expected to be completed in 2014.
The drug, which goes by the name of Sativex, is used as a mouth spray and contains cannabinoids, which are derived from the cannabis plant.
While the drug contains THC it is possible those patients could get high and some people can possibly use the drug for recreational purposes.
"There is no doubt in my mind that there will be people that abuse it," Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, director of the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine told MyHealthNewsDaily.
But Columbia University clinical neurobiology professor, Margaret Haney, said that it is not so likely because the drug takes too long of an effect, at least one hour, whereas smoking marijuana only takes minutes.
"Smoking is a really effective way to get a chemical into the brain," said Haney.
Sativex "is a far safer administration," she said.
While the drug is already approved in United Kingdom, Spain, Canada and New Zealand to treat muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis, GW Pharmaceuticals hopes that Sativex will be used in the United States for treatment of cancer pain.
GW Pharmaceuticals notes that patients are able to adjust their dose of Sativex to prevent it from entering the blood too rapidly, allowing them to experience symptom relief without the marijuana high.
Trials are still in effect as the researchers are unaware if Sativex will indeed help ease the pain of cancer patients, while studies do not provide enough evidence yet.
While Bernstein said that marijuana is a relatively safe drug compared to cocaine or heroin, Dr. Armando Villarreal, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and pain management at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York says that while marijuana is known to make the mental problems worse for people with psychiatric disorders, it’s possible that Sativex may cause the same effects.
Villarreal said that if the drug is approved by the FDA its use could be restricted to certain pain patients.