Medicinal Cannabis: Report (html)


Key terms



Substances that bind to biological receptors to produce the pharmacological effects demonstrated by cannabis, including both natural and synthetic cannabinoids.


Any plant in the genus Cannabis and any product derived from the plant, including dried cannabis (marijuana) and cannabis extracts. Includes the Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis types.

Cannabis extract

Any concentrated form of cannabis in which the chemical components of the cannabis plant have been extracted from the plant material, using a solvent or infusion method (includes cannabis oil and tinctures).

Cannabis oil

A liquid produced by infusing cannabis leaves and flowers in a solvent (such as an oil or an alcohol) to produce a concentrated extract, which can be thinned using oil. Sometimes known as ‘hash oil’.

Cannabis resin

The resin of the cannabis plant, contained in trichomes on the flowering heads of the plant, and collected by being scraped or shaken from the buds and flowers. The resin can also be separated from the plant using ice-water.


Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.

Dried cannabis

The dried flowers, leaves and/or stems of the cannabis plant.


A pharmaceutical formulation of synthetically produced THC (specifically the isomer delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), available in the United States and Canada under the trade name ‘Marinol’.


An endogenous substance that activates the same receptors as phytocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoid system

A signalling system in the human body, comprising receptors, ligands (endocannabinoids) and associated proteins and enzymes. The receptors include those activated by THC and other cannabinoids. The system has a key role in controlling nervous system functions and many other aspects of human physiology.


The Food and Drug Administration, a statutory agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for regulation of pharmaceutical products, among other activities.


Compounds found in plants which contribute flavour, aroma and pigment and are thought to provide a range of health benefits.


Good Agricultural and Collection Practice.


Good Manufacturing Practice.


Cannabis resin which has been dried. Hash is often compressed into blocks.

Health practitioner

An individual who practises a health profession, as defined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria).


Varieties of cannabis which contain low levels of THC (generally 1 per cent or lower by weight), and are commonly used to produce fibre (for use in cloth, rope and so on) or hemp oil (made from pressed hemp seeds used in cosmetics and, in some places, food).

Infused products

Cannabis products produced by the infusion of dried or fresh cannabis in a solvent.

Medical practitioner

A person registered to practise in the medical profession under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria).


A synthetic cannabinoid that is chemically similar to THC and mimics its effects, and is used pharmaceutically in the form of a capsule. Nabilone is sold in the US under the trade name Cesamet.


A whole-plant botanical extract of cannabis, administered as a mouth spray, containing THC and CBD in approximately equal proportions and comprising not less than 90 per cent of the total cannabinoid content, and which may contain other trace cannabinoids. The trade name for nabiximols is ‘Sativex’.

Pharmaceutical grade

Describing a substance manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing practice and a chemical purity standard established by a recognised publication.


Any plant-derived cannabinoid or plant-derived substance which interacts with the endocannabinoid system or is similar in structure to a cannabinoid.

Specialist medical practitioner

A person registered to practise in the medical profession in a recognised specialty under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria).


The Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons No 6, contained in Schedule 1 to The Poisons Standard 2015, a legislative instrument made under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth).

Synthetic cannabinoid

Cannabinoids of synthetic origin, including compounds which are not chemically identical to but mimic the effect of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.


Volatile compound found in the cannabis plant.


The Therapeutic Goods Administration, a division of the Commonwealth Department of Health.


Tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive constituent (or cannabinoid) of the cannabis plant. An isomer of THC, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, sometimes referred to as dronabinol, is believed to be the most active version of the compound.


Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the precursor chemical to THC. THCA is converted to THC as fresh cannabis dries, and when cannabis is subjected to heat, such as by smoking, baking or vaporisation. THCA lacks the psychoactive effects of THC but acts on the same receptors.


A solution of cannabis infused in alcohol, administered under the tongue or taken orally.


Measure and adjust the dosage of a drug.


A device which heats dried cannabis or a cannabis extract to a temperature at which a vapour containing cannabinoids is released.

Medical terms


Acute pain

Pain which lasts for a short time, provoked by a specific disease or injury.


Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, the final stage of HIV infection. AIDS is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition which damages the body’s immune system.

Alzheimer’s disease

A progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells (neurons), resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills and behavioural changes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among those aged 65 and older.


The moderation of painful stimuli so that they are no longer painful, but still perceived. An analgesic is a substance which has this effect.


Preventing or arresting seizures.


Preventing or arresting vomiting.


Reducing inflammation, without affecting the underlying cause.


An abnormal heart rhythm.


A group of diseases (the arthritides) involving inflammation of a joint, resulting in pain, swelling and limited movement.


Weight loss and wasting occurring during a chronic disease.

Cannabis use disorder

Recurrent use of cannabis causing clinically and functionally significant impairment, such as health problems, disability and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school or home. Symptoms listed in the DSM-5 include disruptions in functioning, development of tolerance, cravings for cannabis and the development of withdrawal symptoms within a week of ceasing use.


A cancer-producing substance or organism.


Treatment of disease (especially cancer) by means of chemical substances.

Chronic pain

Pain which persists beyond the time of healing of surgery, trauma or other condition, frequently without a clearly identifiable cause.

Crohn’s disease

A type of inflammatory bowel disease affecting the digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

Dravet Syndrome

A rare form of severe, intractable epilepsy beginning in infancy, causing frequent seizures. Children with Dravet Syndrome typically experience poor development of language and motor skills, hyperactivity, and difficulty relating to others. Also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy.


The 5th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published in 2013.


A chronic neurological disorder characterised by violent, uncontrolled seizures and usually associated with some alteration of consciousness.



A feeling of well-being or happiness.

A condition of unknown cause, characterised by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, fatigue and often psychological distress, and often co-occurring with other rheumatic conditions.


A disease of the eye characterised by increased intraocular pressure and damage to the optic nerve which produces vision defects and can result in blindness.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus spread through bodily fluids that weakens a person’s immune system. HIV can lead to AIDS.

Inflammatory bowel disease

One of a number of conditions which cause chronic or recurring immune response and inflammation of the digestive tract. Includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.


Resistant to treatment.

Intraocular pressure

The fluid pressure within the eyeball which maintains its round firm shape. Abnormally high intrarocular pressure is a risk factor for the development of glaucoma.

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

A form of epilepsy which begins in childhood and causes frequent seizures of varying types. It often results in some degree of impaired intellectual functioning or information processing, developmental delays and behavioural disturbances.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

A condition involving an abnormal response by the body’s immune system directed against the central nervous system, which attacks nerve fibres and the fatty tissue that surrounds them, resulting in the formation of scar tissue (sclerosis) around nerves and the distortion and interruption of nerve impulses. Symptoms vary but can include fatigue, numbness, weakness, dizziness and vertigo, pain, cognitive changes, difficulty walking, spasticity, bladder and bowel problems and mood changes.

Myocardial infarction

Commonly known as a heart attack, a condition where a coronary artery or one of its smaller branches becomes suddenly blocked.


Concerning the nervous system and the diseases affecting it.

Neuropathic pain

Pain caused by damage to or dysfunction in the peripheral or central nervous system.


Having the effect of protecting neurons from injury or degeneration or restoring or regenerating them.

Palliative care

Medical care to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses, including support systems and pain relief.

Parkinson’s disease

A neurological syndrome, usually resulting from a dopamine deficiency, as the consequence of changes to the basal ganglia, characterised by rhythmical muscular tremors and rigidity of movement.


Affecting mental activity, behaviour or perception, such as a drug.


A mental and behavioural disorder causing gross distortion or disorganisation of a person’s mental capacity, affective response and capacity to recognise reality, communicate and relate to others. An

anti-psychotic is a substance used to treat psychotic disorders.


Capable of inducing psychosis.


Synonym for psychoactive.


Post-traumatic stress disorder.


A chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder, which can cause hallucinations, delusions, thought and movement disorders, along with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviours and compromised cognitive functioning. A diagnosis of a schizophreniform disorder may be made if symptoms of schizophrenia exist but have not been present for sufficient time for schizophrenia to be diagnosed.


Stiff or rigid muscles, with unusual tightness or increased muscle tone.

Tourette syndrome

A neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations (tics).


A faster-than-normal resting heart rate.

Botanical terms



In biological taxonomy, the classification one level above species.


A group of plants distinguished from other plants of its category by a particular trait, such as a high yield, but not considered a separate variety.

Research terms


Clinical trial

A research study that prospectively assigns participants to one or more treatments (interventions) to evaluate their effect on health outcomes.

Crossover study

A study in which groups of participants receive two or more treatments in a particular order. For example, the first of two groups may receive treatment A then treatment B, with the second group receiving treatment B then treatment A.

Double blind

Where two or more parties (typically the investigator and the participant) do not know which participants have been assigned to which treatments.

Observational study

A study in which participants are assigned to study groups and observed. While treatments may be applied, participants are not assigned to particular treatments.

Phase I clinical trials

A category of drug trial used by the FDA. Phase I clinical trials are conducted with healthy volunteers, with the aim of finding out the drug’s most frequent and serious adverse events and how the drug is metabolised and excreted.

Phase II clinical trials

A category of drug trial used by the FDA. Phase II clinical trials gather preliminary data on effectiveness (that is, whether the drug works for certain conditions), which may involve comparing the drug’s effects with a placebo. Safety is also evaluated.

Phase III clinical trials

A category of drug trial used by the FDA. Phase III clinical trials gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different dosages, populations and drug combinations. The final stage before marketing approval is granted.


Describing a study in which the effectiveness of drug is compared with the effect of a placebo (a substance which resembles the drug but does not contain the active ingredient).

Randomised study

Describing a study in which participants are assigned to treatment groups by chance.

Pharmacological terms


Removal of a molecule of carbon dioxide from a carboxylic acid, for example the conversion of THCA to THC.


Of a preparation, intended for administration via the mouth and/or throat.


A derivative of opium.


A narcotic substance.


A chemical group or molecule on the surface of or inside a cell which binds to a particular compound or chemical group (such as a hormone, antigen or neurotransmitter).


Of a preparation, intended to be administered under the tongue.


Of a preparation, intended for administration via the skin.


Of a preparation, intended for administration via a mucous membrane, such as the nose or mouth cavity.

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