Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DR. OZ The Truth About Marijuana?

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, DR. OZ (NBC) addressed the issue of Medical Marijuana. Intending to “tell the truth” about marijuana, the show addressed several issues regarding the scientific, social, and legal issues surrounding medical marijuana. In summing up the show, Dr. Oz called on those states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives to implement them, citing states like New Jersey and Maryland, who have not implemented dispensing regulations.

Although I applaud these efforts, Dr. Oz did not achieve his intent of telling the truth. I found the two statements below especially disturbing.




1. Cannabis Sativa (White Widow, Haze) has a high ratio of THC to CBD, both cannabinoids, that creates a more "cerebral" effect compared to the heavier opiate like effect of Cannabis Indica. Medicalization has bred out much of the "paranoia" associated with Sativas, and most strains found in dispensaries are a blend of Indicas and Sativas, with Indicas being the most prevalent. In addition, Indicas are easier to grow, heartier, and produce more product per plant than the 12-20 foot spindly Sativa plants. Cannabis Indica has been proven efficacious in treating anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and other stress disorders.

MARINOL is the trade name of synthetic THC. It is available in 2.5, 5, and 10 mg. capsules. It was released as a generic in 2009, under the name "Dronabinol". Unfortunately, this did not lower the price much. A dosing schedule of 5 mgs. three times a day, or 90 capsules per month, would cost approximately $600.00. Few insurance companies cover this medication, and even fewer physicians prescribe it.

Marinol can be very effective for intractable nausea and vomiting. It also helps with cachexia, allowing ill patients to maintain their weight. It is ONLY THC, however, whereas Cannabis contains many different cannabinoids. Especially notable is the lack of CBD (Cannabidiol). Depending on the ratio of THC to CBD, CBD alters the THC effects. High CBN levels compared to THC produces the pain relieving and muscle relaxing effects that are looked for in medical strains. High THC with Low CBN levels is what produces the unwelcomed side effect of anxiety or paranoia. Many dispensaries offer "High CBN" strains for patients looking for specific medicinal properties.

By itself, Dronabinol is specifically effective, but does not have the range of medicinal relief found in inhaled marijuana. For those seeking relief for these specific symptoms, a prescription model that combines dronabinol with marijuana, may reduce the amount of inhaled cannabis while increasing appetite and reducing nausea and still offering pain relief. The financial costs, however, make the use of Dronabinol restrictive, especially when plant cannabis is legally available at a much lower cost.

2. Cannabis does not cause addiction or create a physical dependence. Addiction is a psychological state in which the object of addiction can be any number of drugs, actions, or substances. Calling cannabis addicting in this context is NOT telling the truth.

Although Cannabis can cause psychological addiction, so can any substance or human action: Prohibiting marijuana for a psychological addiction is like criminalizing dice for gambling disorders.

Unlike opiates (Heroin, Morphine), cocaine (Crack), benzos (Xanax), nicotine, and alcohol, Cannabis carries no risk of physical addiction, and has no substances that create a physical addiction. A psychologically addicted user may report anxiety upon "withdrawal"; any "withdrawal" symptoms are purely psychological. Although many studies have proved this, the argument of addiction is one of semantics and medical terminology, as well as ICD-9/10 (Diagnosis) coding.

Cannabis cannot create the condition of "drug dependence"; however, cannabis can create "drug abuse", as can a can of hairspray and a package of bath salts.

Prohibition has not stopped the use, recreational and medical, of marijuana. The illegal Cartels will make certain that the sick, suffering, and dying will have access to Cannabis; it would be much better if it were available safely and transparently, and provided specific to symptomology.

The Green Association for Sustainability
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