Dr. David Potter, a researcher for GW pharmaceuticals, runs the only research facility in the UK licensed to grow cannabis on a large, commercial scale. He and his team are studying the effects on certain strains of medical marijuana on various illnesses including epilepsy, schizophrenia, and cancer, The Guardian reported.

Much of Potter’s research is focused on low-THC, high-cannabidiol strains of medical marijuana, similar to the ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain that is becoming increasingly more legal across the United States. Marijuana low in THC does not produce the same side effects as normal, higher-potency strains; the user does not experience the euphoria, or paranoia, often associated with the plant’s use.

“The most well-known ingredient in cannabis that gets people high is THC,” said Potter, “but THC is just one of the dozens of potentially useful cannabinoids in the plant.”

“Purified CBD has been shown to have antipsychotic and anti-anxiety effects, and can lessen the psychotic symptoms normally experienced by people given high doses of THC,” said The Guardian. “Research by University College London also suggests that people who smoke cannabis rich in CBD (cannabidiol) are less likely to experience ‘schizophrenia-like symptoms’ than those who smoke cannabis containing only THC.”

With as many as 20 million to 30 million people suffering from schizophrenia at any given time, and with a third of those patients not responding to antipsychotic medication, new treatment options are desperately needed.

Potter and his team conducted a small trial – just 39 patients – but the results were promising. Of those 39, 19 patients were given the antipsychotic drug amisulpride; the remaining 20 were given just CBD. “At the end of the four-week trial, both groups showed significant improvement in their symptoms, but the CBD cohort reported far fewer side effects.”

Results from larger, double-blind clinical trials will report next year, but regardless, “CBD is being investigated as a potential treatment for epilepsy, diabetes, appetite-loss, a range of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, and psychosis and schizophrenia. The compound has also been found to be a potent antioxidant and even appears to inhibit cancer cell growth in certain rare cancers.”

Although it seems slow in coming, the world is finally realizing that medical marijuana is a legitimate, safe, and natural form of treatment for a myriad of conditions. Any option that can help a patient, without the often debilitating side effects of regular pharmaceutical treatments, should be considered. Legalizing strains like the ones Potter studies in the UK and like ‘Charlotte’s Web’ in America is definitely a step in the right direction.