A U.S. company called Medical Marijuana Inc. has acquired a 50 percent stake in CanChew BioTechnologies, a company that focuses on making marijuana chewing gum for use in pain management, anti-nausea applications and other medical areas.

The company claims that CanChew is the first marijuana-based chewing gum on the market, and plans to release the gum as an over-the-counter product in states where medical marijuana is legal, including Arizona, Colorado, California and Washington D.C.

According to the CanChew website, “The CanChew® formulation offers a unique, socially acceptable, patient friendly, taste masked and convenient delivery format for delivery of the cannabis/cannabinoid(s) based medicine via the oral mucosal membranes.”  The website further claims that delivery of the drug through the mucus membranes of the mouth is superior because it bypasses the degradation that can occur in the digestive tract, offers faster absorption of the drug, and “improved patient compliance due to the elimination of associated pain with injections.”

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana with varying restrictions. However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  The Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug and defines it as a drug “with no accepted medical value in treatment.”  However, medical cannabis is frequently used to combat symptoms including nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, pain relief, anxiety and insomnia and even inhibiting tumor growth. Because many of these symptoms are associated with chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments for various cancers, medical marijuana is often prescribed for cancer patients.

Image by Rubén Chase