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Hemp FACT #21-Marijuana Myths
Date: 95-02-01 10:46:56 EDT
Marijuana Myth #8. Marijuana is more potent today than in the past
This myth is the result of bad data. The researchers who made the claim of increased potency used as their baseline the THC content of marijuana seized by police in the early 1970s. Poor storage of this marijuana in un-air conditioned evidence rooms caused it to deteriorate and decline in potency before any chemical assay was performed. Contemporaneous, independent assays of unseized "street" marijuana from the early 1970s showed a potency equivalent to that of modern "street" marijuana. Actually, the most potent form of this drug that was generally available was sold legally in the 1920s and 1930s by the pharmaceutical company Smith-Klein under the name, "American Cannabis".
8) See "Cannabis 1988, Old Drug New Dangers, The Potency Question" by Tod H Mikuriya, M.D. and Michael Aldrich, Ph.D., Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, ibid.
Date: 95-02-02 10:59:16 EDT
Marijuana Myth #9. Marijuana impairs short-term memory
This is true but misleading. Any impairment of short-term memory disappears when one is no longer under the influence of marijuana. Often, the short-term memory effect is paired with a reference to Dr. Heath's poor rhesus monkeys to imply that the condition is permanent.
Marijuana Myth #10. Marijuana lingers in the body like DDT
This is also true but misleading. Cannabinoids are fat soluble as are innumerable nutrients and, yes, some poisons like DDT. For example, the essential nutrient, Vitamin A, is fat soluble but one never hears people who favor marijuana prohibition making this comparison.
9) See Marijuana and Health, ibid. Also see "Marijuana, Memory, and Perception", ibid.
10) The fat solubility of cannabinoids and certain vitamins is well known. See Marijuana and Health, ibid. For some information on vitamin A, see "The A Team" in Scientific American, Vol 264, No. 2, February 1991, p. 16.
Date: 95-02-03 13:53:44 EDT
Marijuana Myth #11. There are over a thousand chemicals in marijuana smoke
Again, true but misleading. The 31 August 1990 issue of the magazine Science notes that of the over 800 volatile chemicals present in roasted COFFEE, only 21 have actually been tested on animals and 16 of these cause cancer in rodents. Yet, coffee remains legal and is generally considered fairly safe.
Marijuana "Myth"#12. No one has ever died of a marijuana overdose
This is true. It was put in to see if you are paying attention. Animal tests have revealed that extremely high doses of cannabinoids are needed to have lethal effect. This has led scientists to conclude that the ratio of the amount of cannabinoids necessary to get a person intoxicated (i.e., stoned) relative to the amount necessary to kill them is 1 to 40,000. In other words, to overdose, you would have to consume 40,000 times as much marijuana as you needed to get stoned. In contrast, the ratio for alcohol varies between 1 to 4 and 1 to 10. It is easy to see how upwards of 5000 people die from alcohol overdoses every year and no one EVER dies of marijuana overdoses.
11) See "Too Many Rodent Carcinogens: Mitogenesis Increases Mutagenesis", Bruce N. Ames and Lois Swirsky Gold, Science, Vol 249, 31 August 1990, p. 971.
12) Cannabis and alcohol toxicity is compared in Marijuana Reconsidered, ibid., p. 227. Yearly alcohol overdoses was taken from "Drug Prohibition in the United States: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives" by Ethan A. Nadelmann, Science, Vol 245, 1 September 1989, p. 943.
Date: 95-02-04 11:00:33 EDT
SOMETHING TO LOOK INTO
There is a book that tells the vast number of medical uses of marijuana. It explains that many (not all) of the dangers we have been warned about have been myths. The book is "Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine" by Lester Grinspoon, M.D., and James B. Bakalar (1993). Obviously everything on this planet has its dangers. Everything could be abused or used in a harmful way. Anything could be addictive, but not everything is physically addictive. Marijuana is not proven to be physically addictive. The drug does not cause brain damage. It is also far less toxic than many of today's prescription medicine. This book contains stories written by patients that had experienced using marijuana to help with their disease or disorder. It shows you the history of the cannabis; why it was made a law, why people still believe the myths, and why full legalization is necessary so the medical users could obtain it cheap and without any trouble. Some people are getting marijuana medication, but the vast majority of medical marijuana users are still being arrested and serving long prison terms without the proper medication (marijuana).
Here is a list of diseases and disorders marijuana helps: It could help addicts of opiates, cigarette attics, probably many more recuperate; cancer chemotherapy (it does not cause cancer), glaucoma, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and quadriplegia, AIDS, chronic pain, migraine, pruritis, menstrual cramps and labor pain, depression and other mood disorders, and many more.
Here is a description of the book from its jacket and a paragraph from the very first page:
From the jacket: Much of the book consists of accounts written by patients (including one from famed scientist Stephen Jay Gould) that dramatically illustrate not only the relief provided by marihuana but also the unnecessary distress caused by the need to obtain it illegally. Grinspoon and Bakalar recount the long history of medical marihuana use, discuss the real (as opposed to fancied) potential health hazards of the drug, and analyze the social causes of the government's insistence of making outlaws of its medical users. They find that marihuana is a remarkably safe substance and that criminalizing its use is costly, ineffective, and unfair. They conclude that legalizing it for medical purposes alone would be unworkable and that it must be given the same status as alcohol--legal, with appropriate limitations, for use by adults for any purpose.
From the first page: "When I began to study marihuana in 1967, I had no doubt that it was a very harmful drug that was unfortunately being used by more and more foolish young people who would not listen to or could not understand the warnings about its dangers. My purpose was to define scientifically the nature and degree of those dangers. In the next three years, as I reviewed the scientific, medical, and lay literature, my views began to change. I came to understand that I, like so many other people in this country, had been brainwashed. My beliefs about the dangers of marihuana had little empirical foundation. By the time I completed the research that formed the basis for a book, I had become convinced that cannabis was considerably less harmful than tobacco and alcohol, the most commonly used legal drugs. The book was published in 1979; its title, Marihuana Reconsidered, reflected my change in view." --Lester Grinspoon,M.D.
Date: 95-02-06 10:54:16 EDT
Here's a portion of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93. Read and Enjoy. Please remember that this article was written in the UK all comments in ( ) are the posters.
Since the Thirties cannabis has been taboo demonised as a stepping stone to hard Drugs. Yet for centuries it was a respected medicine. Now, people with ailments from multiple sclerosis to glaucoma are clamouring for pot on prescription. Could marijuana be a wonder drug for the Nineties?
ALEX KERSHAW investigates.
"When I first took it the effects were dramatic. It was a god-send. It's help with my spasticity, my bladder, taken away my head sweats and gives me a much better night's sleep." A year ago, 43-year-old David McGill was suffering chronic pain. Depressed and insomniac, he had sunk to his lowest point since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1983. Then, last November he heard about cannabis. He is just one of hundreds, maybe thousands, who now use the drug regularly as a treatment for MS and all sorts of other debilitating diseases.
Despite widespread use for thousands of years, cannabis's secret medical history is only now being rediscovered in this country, thanks in part to those battling against diseases for which there is no known cure. Yet from 1842 to 1900, cannabis made up half of all the medicine sold in America.
Robert Burton the English clergyman, first recommended cannabis for depression in the Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621. Queen Victoria used it to alleviate period pains.
A hundred odd years later, the use or supply of cannabis is, of course, illegal. Next month, a Merseyside GP (General Practitioner) is due to appear at Liverpool Crown Court charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971. It is likely to be a test case about the supply of cannabis out of medical necessity. The case is the first of its kind in this country, but there have been many similair presented in American courts.
Although the US Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders, supports cannabis for therapeutic use, the medical profession remains bitterly divided over cannabis. Its political potency, it seems, is as intoxicating as ever. And far more is at stake than possible legalisation. The arguments over cannabis are also about the efficacy of modern medicine, the futility of the government's war on drugs and even the ecology of the planet itself.
Most evidence of cannabis's therapeutic value come from America. Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine, for example written by Dr Lester Grinspoon, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard medical school, includes moving personal accounts of how cannabis has alleviated epilepsy, the weight loss of Aids, the nausea of chemotherapy, menstrual pains and multiple sclerosis.
Several glaucoma sufferers have found that using cannabis had lowered the pressure within the eye, so averting the onset of blindness. Robert Randall is one of them. In 1975, steep street prices drove him to grow cannabis plants in his Washington home "just eight blocks from Capitol Hill" to treat his glaucoma. He was arrested, acquitted and then sued the American government to obtain the first legal supply of cannabis in the United States.
"My defence was actually derived from English common law," recalls Randall. "Thirty five US states have allowed the medical use of marihuana. In opinion polls, 80 per cent of Americans support marijuana on prescription." Now president of the US alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, Randall was told in 1972 that his sight would last three years. Today his glaucoma is no worse.
(Part 2. of this article tomorrow)
Date: 95-02-07 11:20:45 EDT
This is Part Deux of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93.
Please remember, this article was written in the UK all comments in ( ) are the posters.
A handful of patients with cancer or suffering chronic pain have also won access. In 1990, a man known as Steve L becam the first Aids patient to obtain the drug legally, 10 days before he died. The same year, Aids patients Kenny Jenks and his wife, Barbra, won the same right following their arrest for possesing two cannabis plants. Ten armed narcotics officers had broken down the door to their trailer home and held a gun to Barbra Jenks's head.
Then, in 1991, James O Mason, head of America's Public Health Service, suspended the programme which allowed the Jenkses and others cannabis on compassionate grounds. Robert Randall, who recieves a tin box every month crammed with 300 joints (!), is one of only nine people in the US permitted a legal supply grown on the US governments's marijuana plot at the University of Mississipi.
"We let doctors decide every day whether we are allowed to take morphine and all kinds of dangerous drugs," said Kenneth Jenks before he died on July 19. "The decision to take marijuana should be between the doctor and the patient".
Jenks's sentiments are echoed by many in this country. Sufferers from various ailments are turning to cannabis, often in the last resort and in preference to legally prescribed, sometimes highly toxic, drugs. Many suffering manic depressive order, for example, complain the lithium carbonate robs them of their creativity and vitality to the extent that they stop taking it despite the potentially serious consequences. Cannabis, for some, has proved an effective substitute. And for MS sufferes, in particular, Dr. Lester Grinspoon insists, "cannabis is the drug of necessity." Desperate for relief, many swear it helps to alleviate muscle spasms and other symptons.
"It has completely changed my life," says Elizabeth MacRory, who is 51 years old. Diagnosed as having MS in 1986 after a car accident, MacRory was told "go home and get used to it and don't read any books." "Sometimes I joke that I'll be the first woman in prison in a wheelchair," she says. "Cannabis has criminalised me but also liberated me. It has helped with muscle spasms, allowed me to sleep properly and helped control my bladder."
Clare Hodges , a 36-year-old mother of two, who has coped with MS for 10 years, reports similair results. She runs the British Association of Cannabis Therapeutics from her home in Leeds. "I now wake up in the morning and my balance is sensational. I've been prescribed alll sorts of medicines. Most of the time I felt I was being overdrugged, but with cannabis you can really regulate the dosage. So-called experts are always quick to point to the side-effects. But if you read about the possible effects of aspirin, you'd never take it again," she says, lighting a joint containing herbal tobacco.
MacRory, Hodges, McGill and other MS sufferers, who claim considerable benefit from cannabis, are increasingly disaffected with the charity representing their interests, the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Hodges points to the memorandum on cannabis use issued by the Society in which John Walford, its general secretary, asserts that "there is no evidence that this agent has an effect on people with MS." Walford also claimed that "long-term use may be associated with significant, serious side effects." This contradicts Therapeutic Claims in MS, published by the International Federation of MS Societies, which concludes that "no significant side effects were reported in the limited trials" and "no serious long-term effects have been proven to result from the drug."
Part 3 Tomorrow
Date: 95-02-08 10:57:04 EDT
This is part Three of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93.
Please remember that this article was written in the UK. All comments in ( ) are the posters.
When pressed, Walford concedes, "The society would welcome properly conducted trials into any substance that is thought to be helpful, but there are 80,000 people with MS in the UK. What you are alking about is a small minority. There are people who will swear by all manner of things."
"He [Walford] thinks we all just get high," counters Elizabeth MacRory with some bitterness. "He says there are 'significant side effects associated with long-term cannabis use' yet the Society fails to inform the membership of the toxic effects of drugs with no proven efficacy which neurologists continue to prescribe."
"Cannabis is one of humanity's oldest medicines, with a remarkable record of both safety and efficacy," insists Dr Lester Grinspoon whose unflinching advocacy of cannabis caused a storm in America and even led to death threats, "I'd like to see the day when full medical potential of cannabis is recognized," he says. "Then it will be seen in the same light as other so-called wonderdrugs: penicillin, aspirin and insulin. People will look back and ask how people could have been so blind. There is no plant with so many therapeutic qualities. It's one of the safest drugs known to mankind."
Far from being a potential "wonderdrug", it has been claimed that cannabis causes birth defects, hormonal imbalances resulting in males growing breasts, impaired sperm and egg production as well as impotence, frigidity, cancer and brain damage. None of these claims has yet been supported by scientific evidence. An estimated 10,000 studies worldwide and hundreds conducted by the US gorvernment between 1966-76 to back its policy of prohibition, have shown that cannabis, even when smoked in huge quantities, is relatively benign. The spaced-out pot-head, permanently brain damaged after countless tokes on a "Camberwell carrot", is a figment of what Grinspoon calls Psycopharmacological McCarthyism".
As all regular users know - and the Home Office estimated that there were 1.5 million in the UK in 1991, and new figures to be published later this month are likely to put the total higher - cannabis does have well-known side-effects: attention and short-term memory, tracking and co-ordination can be impaired. But not permanently.
The only well-confirmed negative effect of marijuana, according to Grinspoon, is caused by the smoke, which contains three times more tars and five times more carbon monoxide than tobacco. But even the heaviest marijuana smokers rarely use as much as an average tobacco smoker. And, of course, many prefer to eat it.
Coming manana Part 4 of this article.
Date: 95-02-09 11:11:10 EDT
This is Pt. IV of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93.
Please remember that this article was written in the UK all comments in ( ) are the posters.
"Cannabis does have therapeutic properties," admits Dr Heather Ashton, Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology at Newcastle University, "but at the cost, in my view, of unacceptable side-effects. I'm not convinced that it can be any more therapeutic than other drugs which don't have the risks or that the advantages of cannabis outweigh its disadvantages compared to other drugs."
Also a leading expert on cannabis, Professor Ashton points to the "marked increase in heart rate" caused by marijuana, which, she insists, "can precipitate heart attacks in people with cardiac diseases." She stresses that marijuana does cause "amotivational syndrome" when consumed - "it take away the desire to do anything because you feel good." It has, in some rare cases, also triggered psychotic episodes.
Dr Roger Pertwee, Secretary of the International Cannabis Research Society and the UK's pre-eminent cannabis expert, sees himself as occupying the middle ground on the cannabis debate. "Cannabis does seem to be as effective, if not better, than existing drugs in dealing with spasticity and bladder problems of multiple sclerosis. The side-effects seem to be more tolerable for some patients," he says. "Clinical trials have all backed cannabis in being able to, not cure, but suppress some of the symptons. Migraine could well be another case."
As a recreational drug, alongside nicotine, alcohol and even caffeine, Dr Pertwee concedes that cannabis compares favourably. No human fatalities have as yet been recorded as a result of marijuana. Withdrawal symptons have been reported in long-term chronic users in Jamaica and Costa Rica, but they do not appear to be dependent in the damaging sense that others are to, say, alcohol and tranquillizers.
Much effort has also been devoted to proving the "stepping-stone hypothesis" that marijuana smoking leads to the use of dangerous drugs. In Holland, laws passed in 1976 established a division between hard and soft drugs, effectively decriminalizing, with strict conditions, the possesion and supply of cannabis. The Lancet report in 1989: "The Dutch have shown that there is nothing inevitable about the drugs ladder in which soft drugs lead to hard drugs. The ladder does not exist in Holland because the dealers have been separated."
The most exhaustive recent investigation into cannabis occured in America between 1986 and 1988, when the Drug Enforcement Administration heard evidence from doctors, patients and studied thousands of pages of documentation. The conclusion reached by the DEA's administrative judge, Francis J Young, makes startling reading: "Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects," declared Young, "But marijuana is not such a substance . . . Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest active substances know to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."
Pt. 5 Tomorrow
Date: 95-02-10 11:19:44 EDT
This is Part 5 of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93.
Please remember that this article was written in the UK all comments in ( ) are the posters.
Given cannabis's medical potential, why was it criminalised at all? Jack Here, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, has constructed a powerful thesis to explain cannabis's fall from favour earlier this century, culminating in the 1937 Marijuana Tax in America. Cannabis, also known as hemp, is a prolificm fast-growing crop, useful for a wide range of industrial purposes, and an economical source of fuel: it threatened to bankrupt the paper industry, destroy an emerging synthetic fibre industry and even challenge the dominance of oil companies.
In Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, imperilled interests in America found a messianic ally, "If the hideous monster Frankenstein came face to face with the monster marijuana he would drop dead of fright," railed Anslinger. Through a rash of B movies such as Reefer Madness, Anslinger managed to convince the American public that cannabis caused violent crimes and accelerated Uncle Sam's moral decline. Cannabis still unnerves a powerful axis of interests. Many of the 4,000-odd "Families Against Marijuana"-style organisations in the US are funded by the tobacco, pharmaceutical and alcohol lobbies. Cannabis revisionists now view the Marijuana Tax as an ecologocial crime. "We want the establishment to acknowledge that the reasons cannabis became illegal in the first place was because of the threat posed by it's commercial applications. not its use as a drug," says Andy Waller of the UK-based House of Hemp, set up this year to promote cannabis's commercial use. Until the late 19th century, says Waller, cannabis was one of the world's main agricultural crops.
Today, it has an estimated 50,000 non-smoking commercial uses. According to the US Department of Agriculture research, hemp has four times as much cellulose fibre suitable for making paper as wood pulp. The original Levi's jeans were, in fact, 100 per cent hemp (This has been debated) / others claim that cultivating marijuana in the Third World would save the rainforest purify the atmosphere and provide autonomy to Third World economies crippled by debt.
In tacit recognition of marijuana's profit potential, in February, the Home Office granted commercial licences to permit the cultivation of 1,505 acres of cannabis in the UK. It is, however, unsmokeable, containing none of the psychoactive ingredient THC. The first crop is now being harvested. (Most of the hemp plants that were grown in the U.S. for hundreds of years prior to prohibition were this type. They grow 18-20 feet tall and have stalks like tree trunks. This is where the fiber comes from.)
Tamale part 6.
Date: 95-02-11 10:28:52 EDT
This is Part 6 of an article that appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on 9/18/93.
Please remember that this article was written in the UK all comments in ( ) are the poster's.
In the Seventies, Dr Raphael Mechoulam, who first isolated THC at the University of Tel Aviv in 1964, predicted that marijuana would become a major medicine by the mid-Eighties, replacing 10 to 20 per cent of all prescription medicines. Dr Grinspoon argues that, since cannabis is inexpensive, it could significantly reduce health service's enormous drugs bills.
Used to combat stress, the world's number one killer, cannabis could also curtail or replace hugely-profitable drugs such as Valium, Librium and, indeed, alcohol, Grinspoon believes. "I'm convinced," he says, " that cannibidiol (one of 60 therapeutic compounds isolated in cannabis) will be the best sleeping medicine and one of the best anti-anxiety drugs with the least toxic side-effects."
Cannabidiol, which does not produce a high, could also possibly alleviate Britains's most serious drug problem: tranquiliser abuse, which is already responsible for more emergency hospital admissions than all illegal drugs combined. "Cannabidiol could do all these things," concurs Professor Ashton. "But not at any less cost than other drugs, in my opinion."
At grass-roots level, cannabis's rehabilitation also reflects a growing disaffection with orthodox medicine, borne out by the Nineties' boom in alternative medicine. A common complaint, aired by MS sufferers in particular, is that cannibidiol research has been woefully neglected.
However, despite decades of marginalisation, there have been spectacular breakthroughs. Pertwee points to the recent discovery of anandamide (reported in a recent New Scientist), a substance produced by the brain that behaves like marijuana. "Anandamide's discovery promises to open a door to how the brain works. There may be possibilities of working on a memory drug and the treatment of Alzheimer's disease."
The exploitation of cannabis's medical benefits has always been limited because of it's psychoactive properties. The holy grail of cannabinoid therapeutics has, therefore, been to eliminate cannabis's high. Drug companies have spent years trying, without success. But now, the discovery in Cambridge by Dr Sean Munro of a receptor for THC, not in the brain, but in peripheral tissues, promise to solve this problem. Pharmaceutical companies have already expressed an interest in Munro's findings, particularly as related to glaucoma. Yet it is the receptors in the brain, points out Munro, "that are responsible for many of cannabis's potential therapeutic effects." And it is precisely the euphoria induced by marijuana which makes it such an attractive drug for those with terminal illnesses.
Part VII coming next (aren't y'all excited)
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