BY THE WAY by BRUCE…CANNABIS THOUGHTS
On 21 November, this year, Noah Potter, attorney from Psychedeliclaw.com, blogged about his observations while attending the NYC COUNCIL HEARING ON MEDICAL CANNABIS. He well identified the arguments of the opposition and suggested activists should be ready to counter those arguments if we are to be successful.
As far as government objections to medical cannabis, the song remains the same, there is nothing new. I will try to deal with them in no particular order although if you would like to skip the rest of this it all boils down to this: It isn’t medicine because the government says it isn’t. As far as evidence goes, they offer none because they have none.
Opponents say cannabis is a crude plant of which there are so many different kinds it couldn’t possibly be standardized. And who ever heard of smoking a medicine full of dangerous tars and chemicals. It is not medicine and besides there is marinol.
For all practical purposes there are two types of cannabis, sativa and indica. The rest are hybrids of these two. As opponents like to point out cannabis is full of hundreds of chemicals and several dozen cannabinoids. The cannabinoid thought to be responsible for most of the action is tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Two others that come into play are CBD, cannabidol, and CBN, cannabinol. CBN is nonpsychoactive and is thought to moderate the psychoactive effects of THC. Some of the complaints about Marinol, which is pure THC, is it is too psychoactive, takes too long to take effect and it is hard to know the appropriate dose.
Sativas are better at treating some conditions while indicas are better at treating others. The technology now exists to manipulate the cannabinoids and custom make the medicine to treat the illness. Smoking the flowering tops of the female plants is a common way for people to take their medicine. There are tars and carcinogens in cannabis smoke but to date no one has ever gotten cancer from using it. Perhaps it is because only small amounts are used (compared to cigarettes). Maybe cannabis has anti cancer qualities or because it acts as an expectorant. The chief reasons for smoking are the effects are almost immediate and it is very easy to titrate the dose. There is precedent for smoking cannabis as medicine. At the turn of the 20th century Cannabis Indica cigarettes were marketed as treatment for asthmatics.
There are many ways of taking cannabis beside smoking. There is Sativex, a whole plant sub lingual spray that delivers a precise dose. It is made in England and prescribed in Canada. Holland has standardized their medical cannabis at 10.2% THC. There are hot and cold beverages in which it may be taken and edibles of all sorts. There are tinctures and oils and topical applications. It can be vaporized. It doesn’t have to be smoked.
Opponents say we need more studies and then do everything possible to prevent it. Actually many, many studies have been done. During the eighties hundreds of studies were funded and approved by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The NIDA freely admits it is not interested in learning any possible benefit from cannabis. It is only interested in the harmfulness of drugs.
Starting in 1895 with the India Hemp Commission and continuing to the present there have been six or eight major, major studies that have looked at this plant up, down and sideways. There have been hundreds, if not thousands of lesser studies of this plant, especially the flowering female tops. It is very likely the most studied plant in all of history yet there is not one credible study that proves that cannabis smoking by adults is harmful to the individual or society at large. Many of these studies do prove the medical efficacy of cannabis. It is for this reason that no less than 60 National and International Health Organizations call for immediate legal access to this medicine.
Two final thoughts; cannabis as medicine has been illegal for a little over 70 years. It was a legal pharmaceutical in this country for 85 years before that and for thousands of years around the earth.
As far as the dichotomy about medical/nonmedical uses of drugs goes, it is common for medications to be used for reasons other than which they were prescribed. Amphetamines are prescribed for children with attention deficit disorder but they are also used by overland truck drivers and medical residents. Opiates and sedatives have legitimate medical uses yet many are used by pleasure seeking adults. This dichotomy will always exist because it is in the nature of homo sapiens to use consciousness altering substances. We always have and probably always will.