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'.