By / August 26, 2020

Argentina aims to control the correct use and safety of medical cannabis products

The medical use of cannabis, like any other drug, requires exhaustive controls that determine, among other things, its quality, identification, purity, potency and stability to ensure its safety and indicate, for example, its dosage. 

After a sustained work and the certification of the Ministry of Health of Argentina, these vital controls for the correct use of cannabis as medicine will begin to be developed in the Laboratory of Control of Quality of Medicines (LCCM) of the Faculty of Biochemistry and Biological Sciences of the National University of the Coast (FBCB-UNL).

In this renowned space, work has been carried out for some time on the development of a technological platform aimed at determining the chemical composition of oils, extracts, and other derivatives of cannabis for medicinal use.

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The project will guarantee the safe therapeutic consumption of cannabis

“This project aims to respond to a demand from the community and civil associations that have been working on the project of legalization of the use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, providing quality control services of products that are made in a particular way, in groups or in an industrial way,” explained Cámara.

De Zan highlighted that “our laboratory has more than 30 years of experience working in analytical services and technical assistance to the pharmaceutical industry through the implementation of quality controls to raw materials and final products through identification, purity, potency, stability tests, among others. We have highly qualified personnel, the appropriate equipment and instruments and a Quality Management System based on pharmaceutical standards that we will make available for this new service.”

In line with what was expressed by the Chamber regarding the attention to community demands, days ago the Santa Fe City Council sanctioned an ordinance that once regulated, will allow access to cannabis and its derivatives as a therapeutic resource. 

At the moment, this plant is self-cultivated, or extracts and cannabis oils are acquired many times of doubtful origin. The law aims to regulate the production and commercialization of these products, encouraging research into new applications and promoting quality controls so that they can be used as medicines.

Cannabis, as it contains psychoactive substances, must be subjected to research and control by duly authorized laboratories and this is what the LCCM of FBCB-UNL will do.

The chemical composition of cannabis and its many medical uses

The chemical composition of the oils and other derivatives of cannabis varies significantly depending on the variety of the plant from which they are obtained, as well as the characteristics of the soil where it has been cultivated, the temperature, the type and amount of light, the time of harvesting, the drying process, and the method used for extraction.

Studies determined that cannabis plants produce at least 90 compounds known as “cannabinoids” that can be found in different quantities and proportions in products intended for therapeutic use.

Within this universe of compounds it is known that, of the two found in greater proportion, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has an important activity like psychoactive, whereas the cannabidiol (CBD) is the responsible for the pharmacological properties nonpsychotropic, acting like analgesic, antiepileptic and antirust, mainly.

A basic characterization that must be done then on the preparations derived from cannabis is to determine the content and the relation of concentration CBD/THC to establish a correct use of the same one avoiding unexpected adverse effects. 

If it is wanted to characterize more in-depth the product in addition to these two main compounds, it is important to know the content of at least other three minority compounds: the cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), the tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and the cannabinol (CBN), precursors and derivatives of the main assets, of which its pharmacological action is still being studied.

Regulatory framework to guarantee a safe use of cannabis

To guarantee a safe and efficient use of the cannabis products it is necessary to have a standardized and controlled production, which also implies to carry out quality controls that allow to establish, among other aspects, the content and concentration of the active substances to establish the most suitable dosage for each pathology to treat.

“As they contain psychoactive substances, cannabis derivatives are considered substances subject to control by the National Administration of Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT). From LCCM we made the pertinent management before this organism to accede to the certification that qualifies us as a laboratory and as a group of investigation to work with this type of substances and to offer to the community the service that needs,” warned De Zan.

Within the framework of its institutional policies of research and commitment to public health, FBCB-UNL is going to make available to the health system, the different social organizations (civil and professional) and the community in general, an analytical service that will provide information on the chemical composition of the cannabis oils that are being used. That will make it possible to know what is being consumed and to guarantee a safe and effective treatment for those people who, suffering from certain pathologies, need to use cannabis oil in order to alleviate their ailments and improve their quality of life.

In addition to the improvement in the efficiency of the therapeutic schemes currently used, it will make it possible to provide valuable information at the time of carrying out the pertinent clinical trials, when in the future the national production of cannabis derivatives is ordered and regulated, and the necessary studies are carried out to confirm the effectiveness and safety in the different clinical indications.

“It is of extreme importance that the producers, distributors, and consumers of products derived from cannabis take conscience of which it is a pharmaceutical product for which its security and effectiveness must be guaranteed, that is to say, that it is not toxic and that it has the assets in a sufficient amount to obtain the wished therapeutic effect,” emphasized the director.


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