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THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis which has been popular for many years because of its ability to produce a psychoactive “high”. It was identified in 1964 by Professor Raphael Mechoulam who was researching the way in which cannabis interacts with the body. He found that THC is identical in structure to anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid which our bodies produce naturally. THC can be used medicinally to treat several medical conditions but needs to be used with caution because of side effects, contraindications and abuse potential.

Side Effects of THC

  • Paranoia and anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Excessive hunger
  • Sleepiness and lethargy
  • Impaired memory

Prescribing THC

Since THC is a compound with a high abuse potential and also has the possibility of producing serious side effects in some patients, the procedure for obtaining a THC-containing medicine is slightly more complicated.


If your doctor feels you may benefit from a medicinal preparation containing THC, an application needs to be sent to the Superintendent of Public Health stating your medical condition and why THC is needed. Once the application is approved, the patient will receive a control card which will be needed to obtain the medicine together with regular prescriptions for narcotic and psychotropic drugs. THC-containing medicines will be available in pharmacies from February 2018.


THC is approved for use chronic pain, spasticity in multiple sclerosis and nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It is contraindicated in patients with a history of psychosis and should be used with caution in patients sensitive to THC or with a family history of psychotic disorders.