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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. Persons who have been to detox in the past, have recent or ongoing problems with the police or work as drivers are not allowed to legally access THC in Malta under the current law because applications for such persons are not approved by the Superintendent of Public Health.


If the doctor thinks that the patient may benefit from THC, an application is sent to the Superintendent of Public Health stating the medical condition and what medications have been tried. If there are no excluding conditions, the application is approved and the patient can access the medicine from a pharmacy with a control card and a prescription for narcotic and psychotropic drugs. We have four products with THC available in Malta, all are varieties of dried cannabis flowers: Pedanios 22/1 sativa; Pedanios 20/1 indica; Bedrocan 22/1 sativa and Bediol 6:8 sativa.


THC is indicated for patients with chronic conditions that have tried at least one medication and are still not completely relieved or develop unwanted side effects. There is strong evidence it can help in 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.