Coastal Post Online

June 2001

What Has Science Actually Found About Medical Marijuana

By Stephen Simac

If your only source of information about marijuana was the media or politicians, you'd think there was actually some doubt about the medical usefulness of cannabis. You wouldn't have a clue that cannabis has a long history of medical uses, was widely sold in pharmacies as medicine until 1938, is helping millions right now with dozens of medical conditions and is widely recommended by physicians using evidence based medicine.

If you believed only what most media or drug warriors tell you, you'd have a horde of misinformed ideas about pot. None of them would be based on replicated scientific studies on humans or reports based on close observation of patients.

Reefer Madness

Most studies in the 70's and 80's which declared that serious harm to health was caused by using cannabis have been discredited, but their lies are still repeated widely by drug warriors and "educators." Criminalization of cannabis causes the greatest harm to the user.

The media reports widely those studies that support the evil weed theme. They bury or ignore any stories that don't or they can't slant. Politicians ignore or suppress any research or reports that don't come down hard enough on drugs. Marijuana is the gateway to their war on people who use drugs.

Apparently marijuana is a substance which reporters, editors, politicians, drug "experts", and organizations can lie regularly about and not be challenged on. They seem to be correct.

Thirty Spliffs A Day

The only long-term human studies of heavy cannabis users disprove all their claims.

A thirty-year study of ganja smokers in Jamaica and Costa Rica, who have smoked large amounts of herb daily for decades, compared them to other men in those countries who did not smoke pot.

You won't hear drug warriors talk about the findings from these studies that showed pot smoking actually reduced lung cancer in men who also smoked cigarettes. Men who smoked pot lived longer than those who didn't and had a higher IQ. Every claim that drug warriors regularly make about marijuana causing cancer, heart problems, lung problems, memory or mental problems were not found when actual humans were studied.

Torture Chambers Of Science

Animal and cell culture studies with marijuana and cannabinoids have been funded to prove presupposed conclusions that marijuana could impair immune systems, cause cancer or genetic damage. Every one that did so got headlines and has been repeated ever since by politicians. Those results have not held up in human studies or weren't replicated by other researchers. Instead the overwhelming consensus of over 11,000 studies is that cannabis is the safest therapeutic drug known. That is what the DEA's own administrative judge found in 1988, and ordered marijuana removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which denies that it has any medical uses.

Cannabis Cures Cancer

Although possible cures for cancer usually get headlines, two studies showing that brain tumors in rodents were cured with cannabis therapy have been ignored, instead of progressing to human studies. Brain cancers are one of the fastest growing killers of Americans and are associated with working in the service economy.

If you believed the ads put out by a consortium of alcohol and pharmaceutical companies you'd think using marijuana harms your brain instead of diminishing damage from head injuries and epileptic seizures, reducing anxiety and generating euphoria. It is that noxious euphoria which drug warriors can't stand even though they feel euphoric when they win a battle against the weed.

The Best Study Money Can Buy

Researchers claim that in applying for grants for studying marijuana, unless their experiment was written up as searching for harm from pot, they were not approved or funded by the federal government. This went on for decades and introduced some serious bias and "junk science."

Those studies didn't survive closer examination from the Institute of Medicine study commissioned by congress in 1998. Their official report was issued in 1999 but has been mainly ignored. It cost a million dollars and was supposed to settle the scientific debate about whether marijuana was medically useful. It was requested by the drug czar in response to the voters passing proposition 215 in California in 1996.

Study It To Ignore It

An independent body of medical doctors reviewed studies, held hearings and deliberated to determine the results. Congress simply ignored their findings that marijuana has currently acceptable medical uses and did nothing to change the scheduling of marijuana to allow sick people access to it.

If Congress simply acknowledged the results of the study they would remove marijuana from Schedule 1 of their Controlled Substance Act to Schedule III, the same as synthetic THC is now, or lower.

Instead they have ignored the Institute of Medicine "scientific" confirmation of many medical uses, including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, relief of nausea, pain relief, reducing immune induced inflammation of the lungs, appetite stimulation, and sedation. They didn't include physician and patient anecdotal evidence for marijuana helping dozens of other illnesses or injuries. The report stated that the only harm outside of acceptable limits was associated with smoking it. No health risks from smoking pot have been proven in long term studies, but the report suggested that some of the hazards of smoking tobacco apply to cannabis.

The drug warriors seized on these unproven harms, holding medical marijuana to a standard far higher than legal pharmaceuticals which kill an estimated 170,000 Americans a year. There is no known lethal overdose of cannabis, unlike any other approved drug. Politicians only paid attention to one of the report's conclusions that more studies are needed for investigating other uses. More studies are always needed to put off any action. The media only reported on the highlighted parts in the introduction of the 500-page report.

High Court Bans Compassion

If you believed most of the media reports of the Supreme Court ruling you'd think that the judges said medical marijuana was illegal. All they decided was that "necessity is not a defense for manufacturing and distributing marijuana." The media analyses of the recent Supreme Court decision were confused, and none pointed out that a simple act of Congress is denying millions of Americans an effective, economical medicine.

The Supreme Court's debate and recent ruling pointed out that Congress, without any evidence, determined that marijuana has no acceptable medical use in 1972. By court order, in 1980 Congress allowed for a compassionate use program which had the Feds sending 300 joints a month to 300 patients, but did not change the legal scheduling of marijuana. George Bush, Sr. froze the process in 1992 because it sent the wrong message to kids. Only eight patients are still alive now. How does making sick people die in pain send the right message to kids?

Paymore Drugstore

The real trouble with cannabis is it works too well for many medical conditions. It would compete with dozens of the most profitable patented drugs in a medical care monopoly that relies on patented pharmaceutical drugs to keep patients coming in the door. If granny can grow her own to treat her arthritis and headaches, she's nothing but a missing cog in the industrial medicine machinery.




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