Saturday, September 7, 2013

Marijuana is a messy medicine

Marijuania is a messy drug. It has multiple components, some of which are medicinal while others are definitely toxic.  When it was used as a tisane or tea it was of benefit because of the way heat gently separates the compounds and water allows the medicinal properties to be seaped out of the compound.  The 'potency' of the tea was never such as to cause the altered consciousness states achieved with smoking. The smoking of marijuana increases the non medicinal elements of the compound resulting in altered consciousness states that are really the brain experiencing a 'toxic' experience.  This is why it is called 'intoxication'.
Consider Acetylsalicyclic Acid (ASA).This was another medicinal compound extracted from tree bark and taken as a tea for the treatment of Arthritis.  Subsequently it was purified and Aspirin has been a long proven highly beneficial compound especially in the treatment of arthritis and headaches.  It's only risk really is overdose.  Now consider it's medicinal value by comparison if someone were to suggest that we 'smoke tree bark'.  Smoking tree bark is a very messy business and all the toxic compounds created by the smoke and with the other impurities would essentially counterbalance any good that would come from the one ingredient ASA which has been found medicinal.
Addicts want marijuana readily available and tobacco companies are already signing up to promote it's availability to school children en mass at supermarkets. Right now adolescents in Canada are the highest percentage in the western world of marijuana users despite years of decline in school children use of drugs compared to past decades.  The dangers of smoking including increasing risk of lung cancer are associated with smoking this messy compound.
Sativex an extraction of the medicinal compound found in Marijuana is already available in Canada.  As one of my patients who uses both marijuana and Sativex says, "I can't work if I use marijuana.  The pain is better but I'm too foggy.  The sativex seems to have all the medicinal benefits without clouding my judgement.  On the weekend I use the marijuana tea only because it's cheaper."
He doesn't smoke marijuana. No medical doctor aware of the negative consequences of smoking, especially the mouth, throat, stomach and lung cancers would recommend 'smoking' a messy compound.  The CMPA and a recent article in Medical Post, the National Canadian Medical Magazine, by Colin Leslie, highlight the legal risks for doctors who recommend 'smoke' simply.  Not only could they be liable for cancer but they could also be liable for the decreased performance of athletes as a consequence of lung damage by inhalation of smoke.
Now I actually read a paper funded by BM (Big Marijuania) which purported medicinal benefits to the lung of marijana. This was not smoke and simply not true. Increasingly spurious research is being promulgated on the public about the 'elixir' benefits of marijuana.  Having grown up in the times when the CIA put out Reefer Madness saying marijuana would turn women into prostitutes and men in to rapists I find it highly ironic that  BM now promotes the same sort of 'shit' on behalf of 'their shit!' It's always been amusing to me that we all said "hey man, you want to smoke this shit!" back in the days of innocence, back when cocaine was said to be 'non addictive' before Belushi died.    Given the multi billion dollar industry and the backing of the same folk that brought us all the elixir benefits of tobacco I fear that any 'sanity' will now be able actually moderate the discussion.  Marijuania like cocaine and like alcohol and like tobacco is being marketted as non addictive.  This is a myth. All these intoxicating substances have proven addictive and even lethal for some.
Today I have dozens of patients struggling to get off marijuana because it's simply 'ruined their lives'.  No smoke is safe but this group are particularly vulnerable.  This is in contrast to those who rarely use and aren't prone to addiction.  Justin Troudeau whose mother was addicted to  marijuania  admitted to trying marijuana but though at risk for addiction given his family history is least likely to develop addiction especially given the social supports he has.  Marijuana will worsen and may uncover schizophrenia, but only for those at risk.  The majority of people don't carry the combination of genes that predispose  one in a hundred youth who develop schizophrenia in any society if exposed to a genetic stressor like Marijuana.  More teenagers however  may develop this crippling lifelong illness triggered by their losing that particular Russian Roulette game of genetics and marijuana.
That said, I've just started a book, Reefer Saniety, by Kevin Sabet PHD., Seven Myths about Marijuana.  I enjoyed the forward by Patrick Kennedy, one of the illustrious and brilliant Kennedy family.  Doctors collectively know as scientists do that there is medicinal value in plants and since the ancients we've been extracting and purifying these compounds for their medicinal benefit.
However, it's worth while remembering that while doctors and medical researchers have been seeking to find the safest best compounds for the use with disease the Boys in the Back Room have been using science for wholly different purposes.  Present day marijuana is far from 'natural' , like hemp, the compound it originated from.  Even the marijuana smoked at Wood stock was like 'near beer' compared to the highly toxic purified adulterated Marijuana strains marketed to children today for maximal effect.  The agricultural scientists at Monsanto couldn't have done more to make present day marijuana more unnatural and more potent.  The boys in the back room are the same guys who having done their best with marijuana have moved on to make the best crystal methamphetamine.  It's all basic science.  Nothing new.  The only difference is that one group are interested in producing medicine while the other group are interested in producing oblivion without consideration of the consequences to the vulnerable, young, and mentally ill.
One in six people will have serious problems with marijuana used to toxify their brains, for the purpose of intoxication.  1 in 6 is a medical epidemic ready to explode.  As my Respirologist friend said, "there simply would be no respiratory medicine department without smoke". What he means is that they'd never have had the patients to create a subspecialty. General medicine would have take care of the simple cases of asthma and rare cases of cancer unrelated to the deluge of illness brought on by tobacco.  The tobacco businessmen are the same folk who only a few decades ago advertised. "Smoke cigarettes. They will make the baby smaller and give you an easier delivery."
India has had marijuania grown as a weed forever. It's ubiquitous.  It's not used. It's avoided. The ancient Indians and yogis learned centuries ago that marijuana was not safe.  So the mothers of children didn't encourage them to smoke the substance.  It's like the poisonous juniper blueberries that grow in Canada.  My mother encouraged me to pick and eat blue berries but avoid the juniper blueberries.  Juniper is a poison that has medicinal properties. We use it in medicine.  We don't smoke it and Canadian children are taught the difference between blue berries and juniper berries.
It's not rocket science. It's just science.  With a touch of Saniety, if we consider the premises of Sabet's  "Reefer Saniety".   There really does need to be a balance to the Reefer Madness promoted by Big Marijuana today.  

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