Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Must read. A doctor responds to negative medicinal Cannabis story

You really should read the full letter

Finally, most patients are eager to improve the quality of their health. The dispensaries and the growers work hard to supply patients with the highest quality products, all home grown in our beautiful mountain state. We are so lucky to live in one of the 14 states that give us the option of using the oldest herbal medicine known to mankind. Be well and medicate responsibly.

Dr. Wendy Zaharko

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cannabis will Destroy our Civilisation - Another Dumb Prohibition Argument

Mary Grabar, over at Pyjamas Media is warning us that in order to maintain heritage and values, cannabis must remain illegal. Mary must have hit the Eggnog early this year, as her prose appears to have been written under a confused, alcoholic state.

Mary. Cannabis has a 6000 year association with humans. Cannabis has been illegal for only 70 odd years.

Mary, 15% of new alcohol users become addicted to the drink, whereas only 9% of new cannabis users develop any type of dependence. In Great Britain alone, in over 60% of suicides, alcohol abuse was a contributing factor.

But then, maybe the joke is on me. I'm sure Mary *must* have had her tongue firmly in cheek when she penned this article...if not, she needs to research her subject some more.

The sanction for alcohol use goes back to the Bible. In the New Testament, references to its use in ceremonies like the Last Supper and the wedding at Cana appear. But Jesus also warns about excessive use. In the Old Testament, alcohol is shown to cloud the judgment of Lot. The Bible, in this way, tells us when and how we can use alcohol.

This means very little, though, in the arid moral climate of today’s libertarianism.
But I would argue that it should, not only from my position as a Christian, but from my position as a citizen of a country whose foundational values spring from the Judeo-Christian heritage. The sanction for alcohol use has lasted for millennia. It has become part of our rituals at meals, celebrations, and religious services. That is a large part of why Prohibition failed.
Marijuana, in contrast, has always been counter-cultural in the West. Every toke symbolizes a thumb in the eye of Western values. So it follows that in order to maintain our culture, we need to criminalize this drug.

The prohibition against marijuana is one brick in the foundation of our society. On a practical level the use of marijuana also works to knock out other bricks, like the work ethic, emotional engagement, sexual inhibition, and the ability to reason. For example, when one of my college students leads off in defense of the legalization of marijuana, he invariably does so in a disjointed manner, unable to muster the resources of reason and conviction to his argument. (He also does this in his essays.) One caller, “Dave,” to the Doc Washburn program displayed the same apathetic, but friendly, attitude.

Four Percent of the world population smokes cannabis reports that 'The Lancet' has an article stating that 4% of the world smokes pot.
The article is a somewhat interesting read.

Around nine percent of people who ever use cannabis become dependent on it, says the paper. By comparison, the risk of addiction for nicotine is 32 percent, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine and 15 percent for alcohol.

The article also rehashes the old carcinogens in cannabis story, plus some other arguable points. However, on the whole, the article is well balanced.

"A high THC content can increase anxiety, depression and psychotic symptoms in naive (read-new) users, while increasing the risk of dependence and psychotic symptoms if regular users do not titrate [measure out] their dose."

I think may be sitting on the fence in respect to this article.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Medicinal Cannabis Videos - Part Deux

Following on from my previous post, here are some more.

Cannabis as Medicine - Video links

I have seen several amateur videos that document the medicinal benefits that cannabis has had on a number of people. Here are some links that are worth watching:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Moderate Cannabis use may Reduce Cancer Risk

I don't want to make too much of this study, but thought it worth posting about, if only to counter some of the negative stories about cannabis being given preferential media coverage.

The journal 'Cancer Prevention Research' has recently published the results of a population based study that is promising news for the medicinal cannabis supporters. It appears that long term moderate cannabis use reduces the risk of certain head and neck cancers:

NORML covers the story here:

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Adolescent Brain And Cannabis

Hi folks (well, those of you who have persevered over the past 6 months of nothing).

I am back online for a little while and have been moved to comment about the not so latest headlines warning of adolescent brain damage from chronic cannabis use.

Well DUH! 

ANY  abuse of a mind altering substance will adversely affect a developing brain. 
Alcohol will. 
Morphine will.
LSD will.
Anti-depressants will.

Should I list the hundreds of drugs that will affect a growing brain?
Now, let's look at the abstract of the study, courtesy of

Chronic exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence but not during adulthood impairs emotional behaviour and monoaminergic neurotransmission

Francis Rodriguez Bambicoa, Nhu-Tram Nguyena, Noam Katza and Gabriella GobbiCorresponding Author Contact Information, a, E-mail The Corresponding Author
a Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, 1033 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada H3A1A1

Received 9 October 2009; 
revised 21 November 2009; 
accepted 26 November 2009. 
Available online 5 December 2009.


The pathophysiological neural mechanism underlying the depressogenic and anxiogenic effects of chronic adolescent cannabinoid use may be linked to perturbations in monoaminergic neurotransmission. We tested this hypothesis by administering the CB1 receptor agonist WIN55,212-2, once daily for 20 days to adolescent and adult rats, subsequently subjecting them to tests for emotional reactivity paralleled by the in vivo extracellular recordings of serotonergic and noradrenergic neurons. Chronic adolescent exposure but not adult exposure to low (0.2 mg/kg) and high (1.0 mg/kg) doses led to depression-like behaviour in the forced swim and sucrose preference test, while the high dose also induced anxiety-like consequences in the novelty-suppressed feeding test. Electrophysiological recordings revealed both doses to have attenuated serotonergic activity, while the high dose also led to a hyperactivity of noradrenergic neurons only after adolescent exposure. These suggest that long-term exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence induces anxiety-like and depression-like behaviours in adulthood and that this may be instigated by serotonergic hypoactivity and noradrenergic hyperactivity.
Keywords: Cannabinoids; Adolescence; Serotonin; Norepinephrine; Anxiety; Depression

 OK, that study was conducted on rats. The study linked below was conducted on real humans, not rats:

Delta-9-THC in the Treatment of Spasticity Associated with Multiple Sclerosis

Here is the abstract:

Marijuana is reported to decrease spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis. This is a double blind, placebo controlled, crossover clinical trial of delta-9-THC in 13 subjects with clinical multiple sclerosis and spasticity. Subjects received escalating doses of THC in the range of 2.5-15 mg, five days of THC and five days of placebo in randomized order, divided by a two-day washout period. Subjective ratings of spasticity and side effects were completed and semiquantitative neurological examinations were performed. At doses greater than 7.5 mg there was significant improvement in patient ratings of spasticity compared to placebo. These positive findings in a treatment failure population suggest a role for THC in the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

While I agree that abuse of phycoactives is bad for a growing brain, I cannot understand why we are using animals to make assumptions (postulate theories) about how cannabis affects humans. Past and current human based studies show that the medicinal value of cannabis in controlled doses is a valuable and effective medicine for a wide range of conditions from neural pain to depression.

Cannabis needs to be validated as a medicine, rather than a 'stoner drug'.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ian Barry - Cannabis Crusader or naughty boy?

I reckon he deserves a pat on the back for being brave and standing up for what he believes. I bet he didn't think he'd be world famous by the end of the week though.

G'day from Australia Ian!

If you don't know who or what I'm talking about, Ian presented a speech at his school last week about legalising cannabis. Half way through his speech he lit a joint and smoked it. If not for that small joint, none of would have heard of him. I should have done that when I presented my cannabis speech at Uni a few years ago. Bugger!

Heres a few links to articles about the incident, and Ians speech:

Here is a transcript of his presentation:

An interview on Cannabis news:

This is the first article that I read about this:

Student Allegedly lights joint in class

I think it's about time I started a QLD chapter of NORML. I'm getting tired of the plethora of anti-pot hysteria that is a carry over from our grandparents days (as in our meaning us 40+ year old folk).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cannabis and Insomnia

Every day, more and more people are coming out of the closet to describe their cannabis experiences to the world. This article, 'The cannabis Closet: Insomnia' gives an insight into how hard it is for someone to use their chosen medicine under archaic laws and prejudices.

This quote says so much about the stigma attached to cannabis use in countries where the use of cannabis is still illegal:

In my twenties, I had a cigar box full of marijuana that I left in a drawer by my bed. (I was never a recreational user, since smoking in the company of others made me feel paranoid.) If I woke up in the middle of the night, I would smoke a little, go back to sleep and wake up feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed. But I stopped smoking when I met my now husband, since he didn't approve. Now my insomnia has gotten much worse since the birth of my child, with all the attendant middle of the night awakenings.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ten Cannabis Myths

I was going through my Google Alerts and found this blog:
Homeless on the High Desert. There was an interesting post (click on the title of this post) about the Ten Myths about Cannabis.

It got me to once again thinking that the more myths debunked about cannabis, the more ridiculous the government funded anti-marijuana rhetoric becomes.

Then I got to thinking about how much do *I* do to get the message out. Well, besides this and another blog, not much...but then...

Here is scene that may or may not have occured some time in the past...

Location: The wide, shaded verandah of a farm house in the semi-outback of Australia on a small 150 acre block.

What's happening: A get together barbeque.

Who is there: About twenty people, mostly couples ranging in age from mid thirties to late sixties.

The conversation in regards to pot starts around the barbeque. Everyone has some sort of alcoholic beverage in their hand. One bloke says to another:

Joe (J): "The neighbours got raided again last week"

Bill (B): "They get busted with a crop again Joe?"

J: "Yeah. Bloody ferals. It'd be alright if they were just growin' a few for 'emselves, but they're growing acres of the shit. Then you get cars up the road in the middle of the night, collecting their stash or whatever they do".

B: "Then you get the coppers hanging around all the time. You can't drive home after a beer at your mates because the drug squad might pull you up 'cause you live on the same road".

Indicaman (I): "I reckon the government should legalize it and issue a growers license for personal use. Then you wouldn't have to worry about strange cars or cops."

J: "Then you'd have every bastard stoned and driving around."

I: ""Bit like now with everyone on the piss hey? You'd probably find half your neighbours have a little crop somewhere. If it was legal, they'd come out of the woodwork slowly. You'd be surprised at the medicinal uses it has".

J: "I don't care what anyone does on their land, so long as it doesn't make life hard for me. I heard it's good for glaucoma".

I: "and depression in certain doses, and MS and chemo pain, and neuropathic pain and cancer,..."

B:"Does give you a hard on? My missus would buy a kilo of the stuff if it did."

...and the conversation goes from 'ferals' to medicine and no-one notices. That's how I try to get the message out. By the time the conversation changes subject, I've given out web addresses to the more interested people...

But then, that conversation may not have happened.

After all, I'm a Stoner remember?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Louis - Speak To Me About Cannabis Reform

I found this post at

If the author sees this, please contact me...

Hi, My name is Louis and Im an American that moved out here to Sydney a couple of years ago. Compared to back home, I feel like Australia (even Sydney and NSW where I live) have pretty reasonable cannabis law. Let me scratch that, the law is still pretty invasive, but it seems that enforcement for the average citizen is pretty lax. I mean, you can barely walk around without the sweet smell of a joint hitting your noise as it leaks from someone's house. However, it is still necessary that we look to make real progress with this issue. Ive wondered for years how the hell there hasnt been any progress on the medicinal front here even though there was a "commission" assigned to look at the viability of cannabis. It seems to me like there isnt a serious, unified push being made by intelligent, committed members of the community to bring the truth forward. Although there is tolerance to a certain degree in Australia, people continue to go to jail and patients continue to suffer for lack of medication. I mean, I see people sitting at all of our fine cafes here for hours at a time, self-medicating themselves with caffeine and cigarettes, all the while harbouring ignorant perspectives on freedom and more importantly on drug laws. Back in the US, I believe that we will have serious discussion for legalization within the next 5 years. The harmful effects of prohibition are far outweighing any perceived gains in the "war on drugs." As those invasive and racists policies fail, there will be opportunities all around the world to re-define not just which are illegal or legal drugs, but to re-define what freedom is, to one day be represented by OPEN government; to be able to know that justice does exists and that the hidden agendas of politicians and businessmen do not dictate the way of the world.

I'm not trying to say progress hasn't been made, but now is as good of a time as ever to set a serious foot forward. No matter where it is the movement for cannabis law reform should not only look to "free the weed," but to expose the lies, the propaganda and those responsible for literally taking away the lives of the imprisoned, the sick, the suffering and people of color that have seen entire communities destroyed not by drugs, but by ignorant drug policy, poor education and a system that treats health care issues with handcuffs and chains. For me, cannabis law reform is less about being able to head down to the Chemist and buy, and more about taking a major step to educate the public and politicians alike that drugs are not the problem here. It is ignorance, poor parenting, and a system that looks to blame and fight wars against concepts and inanimate objects such as "terror" and "drugs" and "poverty" that limits us. We need to realize that the real wars are fought within as we encounter all the realm of human experience. When we have a wealth of information to rely on we can make decisions that for better of for worse we will at least learn from. When our whole world is filled with mis-information and propaganda and lies, well its easy to see what we get; a failed financial system, overcrowded prisons and wars financed by the drugs, prostitution and "terror" that we so nobly spend billions to fight. What we do need here in Australia is a professional, focused lobby group for cannabis law reform. It seems that there are many willing to do their part, but we need to get together and approach the issue as citizens and taxpayers first, and cannabis users second. I am advocating the start of a national organization to fight for this cause. Say what you will about the Marijuana Policy Project or NORML, but they have gotten alot of airtime in the media and eventually, they will bring full legalization to the US. The question then will be, what were the costs of 70+ years of prohibition? Will those responsible for the lives destroyed feel remorse? What of the 7000 drug-related murders last year alone in Mexico? What of the guns, prostitution and even slavery necessary to the black market distribution of drugs? Will it have been worth it? We need lawyers, doctors, artists, accountants, web designers, architects, hospo workers and everyone else to step up and put an end to this. Not only so people can consume cannabis, but because true freedom will exist one day on this Earth and so those responsible for holding back human development for the advancement of political agenda will answer for all the injustice and harm that failed drug policy bring about.

I would really like to get going on developing a lobby group. If anyone is interested I intend to contact the MPP for any info our sources and work using a similar model to them. This means the focus will be on getting scientific information in the media to combat the propoganda, getting non-profit status, and having a well-informed community that understands the line that must be respected if we are to make any progress on this issue. I want to approach it in a very professional manner as I believe it is the only way to be heard with such a seemingly taboo issue in the political arena.

If anyone is interested or has any ideas, input or experience please reply.


Cannabis Compounds Fight MRSA Bugs

The more research conducted, the more medicinal uses (re) found.

Researcher have found that natural cannabis compounds show ' "Exceptional" Antibacterial Activity Against MRSA'

Here's a link with more information:

This is the company conducting the research:

"Although the use of cannabinoids as systemic antibacterial agents awaits rigorous clinical trials, … their topical application to reduce skin colonization by MRSA seems promising. … Cannabis sativa … represents an interesting source of antibacterial agents to address the problem of multidrug resistance in MRSA and other pathogenic bacteria."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some Honest Reporting about Cannabis

I have only just discovered the UKCIA. That is, the UK Cannabis Internet
Activist site

I'm really impressed with the balanced view this site gives to cannabis.
Notable are the Cannabis Risks page:

Also, if you've followed the mainstream media reports about the 'Ask Frank'
advice line for teens in the UK, you might like to read a different view

I'll be reviewing the UKCIA site some more and will give my opinion on the
site here in the near future. Meanwhile, pop on over and check it out for

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How Much Can a Koala Bear?

Smoking Cannabis will give you a 70% greater chance of developing testicular cancers:

The study involved 369 men with testicular cancer, and 979 cancer free individuals.
All participants filled out a questionnaire. Of those, only 250 of the cancer patients could be interviewed, and just over half the cancer free subjects.
The conclusions of the study itself say this:

An association was observed between marijuana use and the occurrence of nonseminoma TGCTs. Additional studies of TGCTs will be needed to test this hypothesis, including molecular analyses of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoid signaling, which may provide clues regarding the biologic mechanisms of TGCTs.
The study led to a hypothesis, not a concrete (nor even a silly putty) result. The study results translate into plain english thus:

After the resulting surveys and interviews, we came to the conclusion that we think there might be a possible link between testicular cancers and smoking cannabis. However, we need to do a lot more study to be able to draw any firm conclusions. After all, this is just a hypothesis.

Now, add to this the fact that the incidence of testicular cancer amongst men in general is (for the United States) about 1% of all cancers diagnosed in the male population. That is, about 8000 cases. Of those 8000, about 400 people die from the disease. Of those 8000, only 3200 of them will have the specific cancer that this study leans toward; the nonseminoma variety. Even if there were a proven link, it would be on par with eating margarine on burnt toast as a risk factor for cancer. Or, in a statistical sense, IF a valid association between cannabis smoking and nonseminoma testicular cancer is found, heavy pot smoking males will have around a 0.8% chance of developing this form of the disease, compared to a 0.5% chance for the rest of the population.

Smoking cannabis and tobacco will give you a threefold increased risk of developing COPD.

Once again, rather than throw up a bunch of media links, I'll cut to some pages that deal directly with the study that drew the above conclusion. Suffice to say, cannabis is not the cause of the problem:
These studies, involving mainly younger individuals, have provided inconsistent but suggestive evidence that smoking marijuana only may lead to modest airflow obstruction and hyperinflation that could predispose the individual to COPD later in life. The findings of Tan and colleagues9 add to the limited evidence of an association between use of marijuana and COPD because their study focuses on an older population ( aged 40 or older ) that is at greater risk of COPD. Their finding that concurrent smoking of marijuana and tobacco is associated with a greater likelihood of COPD than smoking only tobacco implies a possible additive effect of the 2 substances on lung health. An additive effect was also suggested by Taylor and colleagues, whose study involved a younger population. By contrast, Aldington and colleagues concluded that concurrent smoking of marijuana and tobacco attenuated the association between smoking tobacco and a reduced ratio of FEV1 to FVC and respiratory symptoms.

Firm conclusions cannot be drawn about the association between use of marijuana and COPD based on the limited and inconsistent data available. The studies that address this topic are limited by their small numbers of participants and by the uncertain accuracy of self-reported use of marijuana, particularly in view of its illegality and the difficulty of accurately recalling amounts previously used. Some of these studies are also limited by their cross-sectional design, and most are limited by the young age ( 40 years or younger ) of participants. Nevertheless, the consistency of some aspects of the available data allows us to more firmly conclude that smoking marijuana by itself can lead to respiratory symptoms because of injurious effects of the smoke on larger airways. Given the consistently reported absence of an association between use of marijuana and abnormal diffusing capacity or signs of macroscopic emphysema, we can be close to concluding that smoking marijuana by itself does not lead to COPD.

To further ease your mind on this issue, check out the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical care Medicine:

We conclude that regular tobacco, but not marijuana, smoking is associated with greater annual rates of decline in lung function than is nonsmoking. These findings do not support an association between regular marijuana smoking and chronic COPD but do not exclude the possibility of other adverse respiratory effects.

Smoking cannabis will lead to a psychotic episode or schizophrenia

This statement has been discredited a number of times. However, for the point of argument, check out the transcript of this documentary episode from the Australian ABC TV 'Catalyst' program:

Narration: But if that’s true, how come so few cannabis users become psychotic? One third of Australians have tried marijuana, yet only 1% of the population have schizophrenia. Who are the people at risk? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, was discovered in a picturesque corner of South Island, New Zealand. Dunedin is home to one of the world’s best longitudinal studies. Since 1972, they’ve been subjecting a group of 1000 people to a barrage of tests and questions. In 2005, they announced an astonishing discovery – a gene for vulnerability to cannabis.

Professor Richie Poulton: The gene we looked at is called the catechol-O-methyltransferase – or COMT for short. And we looked at it because it’s a gene that stands out in families that have schizophrenia.

Narration: And what does this COMT gene do? Well, as it happens, it regulates our old friend, dopamine.

Jonica: Let’s say these are the COMT genes – this is the good gene – this is the bad gene. Now, everyone gets two of them, so you can get two good genes or one each. But, if you get two of the bad genes, well it seems your ability to regulate dopamine is impaired.

Narration: Which might not matter, unless you smoke cannabis.

Professor Poulton: We found that among adolescents who had used cannabis on a monthly basis or more, who had the bad version of the gene, their chances of developing psychosis by their mid 20’s were increased 11 fold.

Jonica: 11 fold. That’s extraordinary.

Professor Poulton: It is. So this explains why the use of cannabis among a small group of people has a devastating effect in terms of the likelihood of developing psychosis, but most people remain unharmed and unscathed.

So, if I understand correctly, the crux of this is that a defective gene and not cannabis is the reason for some people becoming psychotic when smoking pot?

Another ABC program, 'Quantum', has this on its 'What's Your Poison?' page:

Does cannabis cause psychosis?
It is believed that cannabis use may cause a condition known as a drug-induced psychosis which can last for up to a few days and is often characterised by hallucinations, delusions, memory loss and confusion. However, in some cases, cannabis use may contribute to the development of a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Cannabis use can prolong the duration of symptoms of mental illness and can lower a person's chances of recovering from a psychotic episode.

People most at risk are those with a family history of psychotic illness or those who have already experienced a psychotic episode. Other legal and illicit drugs should also not be ignored. For example, some evidence suggests that substances such as alcohol and amphetamines have a greater effect than cannabis in the development of psychosis. So, people with a family or a personal history of psychotic illness should avoid drugs like cannabis completely and try other healthier ways of relaxing

I was going to list more of these mistruths. But I'm over it for now...

More Cannabis Disinformation

The latest story making the rounds is about a study that reveals tobacco smokers who also smoke cannabis have a substantially increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Most mainstream headlines are saying that cannabis is the problem. However, the study that the conclusions were drawn from say something different:

“Smoking marijuana and cigarettes is harmful for your lungs even in small amounts if you smoke them together,” said Dr. Tan, who is the study’s lead author.

But the risk of developing COPD was not heightened among those study participants who said they smoked only marijuana.

Researchers don’t know exactly why smoking tobacco and marijuana apparently boosts the risk of the lung disease so greatly. Dr. Tan said they believe a chemical reaction may occur in the individual’s airway that spurs the onset of health problems.

Further, this statement from other experts puts the study into perspective:

Despite this, an editorial being published today with the study suggests that marijuana users may not need to worry their habit will lead to serious lung problems. Dr. Tan’s study, as well as past research, hasn’t identified a strong association between marijuana use and chronic lung disease, writes Donald Tashkin, medical director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Tashkin argued the scant evidence supporting the link means that “we can be close to concluding that marijuana by itself does not lead to COPD.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Stating The Obvious - Cannibis as an Economic Recovery Tool

I know, I know. It's one of the hottest topics on the Interwebiverse and beyond. Leading an economic recovery by legalizing and taxing pot.

Being a medicinal user (I use cannabis for medicinal purposes), I would have to promote any form of legalization. When it could inject BILLIONS of Dollars into the economies of countries that follow the full legalization path, I would have to say go for it. All you politicians blowing hot air about recessions and recoveries, have a good look at the projected figures that are appearing.

I won't repeat all the stories and analyses here. I feel uncomfortable re-stating the bleeding obvious. Unfortunately, the anti-pot brigade will say that this, as with medical marijuana reforms, is just an ploy by us stoners to get our poison accepted once again in society.

We're a bad bunch of people we are.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Read me SINNER!!

Attn. Religious: Marijuana is Not a Sin (ep. 2)

This was interesting. I'll have to subscribe and follow any updates.