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Cannabis Sativa (marijuana) is an old drug. When I say old, I mean quite literally ancient. As a medicinal herb, Cannabis found its way into the holistic medicinal chests of ancient healers across continents, cultures, and time.  Its second scientific name, Sativa, comes from Latin and means "sown" and the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa, has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years with some of the earliest archeological hemp evidence dating to 10,000 B.C.E. in the form of rope and bits of hemp cloth in Africa as well as bits of hemp nautical rope on Chinese ships dating to the Chou Dynasty (1122-249 B.C.E.).

     Other than the rise of the prohibition era in the United States, Cannabis had actually not seen a decline in medicinal usage worldwide. It was the U.S. government, under the guise of the prohibition culture that had taken the nation, that began enforcing new restrictions against the plant, essentially ending a long and storied history in American history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it plentifully and most drug stores contained hemp oils in a wide variety of elixirs and tonics nationwide.

        Doctors and scientists today are now pushing down the doors of Cannabis research and openly pondering if some of this age-old wisdom regarding the healing properties of Cannabis may just hold water scientifically. After several initial studies on the plant domestically and abroad addressing whether Marijuana could potentially have powerful anti-cancer effects and even cause cancer cells to go through apostasies (essentially self-destruct) comes the news that this powerful plant may also have the ability to slow or even stop the spread of HIV /AIDS.

The findings of a lengthy Louisiana State University study published last week in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses detail how scientists administered a daily dose of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, to monkeys infected with an animal form of the HIV virus. Over the course of that period, scientists found that damage to immune tissue in the primates' stomachs, one of the most common areas in the body for HIV infection to spread, decreased.

"These findings reveal novel mechanisms that may potentially contribute to cannabinoid-mediated disease modulation," Dr. Patricia Molina, the study's lead author, wrote. The report goes on to explain that while HIV spreads by infecting and killing off immune cells, the monkeys that received the daily THC treatments maintained higher levels of healthy cells.

      My take? I find it interesting how many times the best answer to problems and imbalances in the body are better served through the usage of naturally occurring healing chemicals obtained from organic sources rather than these mass-produced chemical pills which, it should be noted, more often than not treat the symptoms of a disease rather than prevent or slow the disease itself.

       A wide variety of herbs, spices, plants, enzymes, hormones, oils, etc. have a long (and proven) history of medicinal use and these healing chemicals are plant-based yet capable of curing a variety of ailments. They're available naturally and can be consumed with little to no harm to the human body - it's as if nature were in perfect balance with all its organisms, for every natural problem, there is a natural solution..  I agree with Hippocrates of ancient Greece "let thy food be thy medicine".

So what is the future of Marijuana in the United States? Does the debate about medical marijuana stand alone on a plane of its own in the vast landscape of divisive, so-called "social issues", or does this debate act instead as a microcosm for a broader healthcare problem in the United States? Do we have a healthcare system? or do we have a symptom management system? Do we have a corporate incentive to cure and/or prevent all disease to the furthest extent possible? or do pharmaceutical profits instead incentivize a system that better benefits the healthcare industry if there remains a population of sick patients consumers?

- Christian Bentzen


Originally posted to Christian Bentzen on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 09:02 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform.


Should Marijuana be treated like other medicinal herbs or remain in its current legal status?

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a very informative diary. Thanks for (9+ / 0-)

    sharing this important information.

  •  You always hear how if we legalize it, (10+ / 0-)

    children will have easy access to it and elementary school kids will all be high. The thing about that is, even if it were true, who is to say that it wouldn't do the kids some good? Get a perspective on life, have a few laughs, mellow out a bit. It could be really good for them.

    •  Every HS kid either has it today or knows who (11+ / 0-)

      does and where you can buy it.  "Protecting the kids" has been an utter failure.

      Time to try something else. Something which doesn't put people in prison over a plant.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 10:43:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Psychoactive drugs are not good for developing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      young minds. Human brains continue to develop up until our early twenties (20's).
      Drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana all have negative effects on the development of our brains. That is, it does more damage, and more lasting damage to young developing brains than to those aged over twenty (20+). Those old fashioned laws restricting booze and smokes to those over twenty-one actually make some biological sense, but we all know that enforcing those laws often causes more damage than they seek to prevent.
      I can't find the link, but I remember reading a few years ago about a Dutch study that showed significant detriments in memory function for younger starters on marijuana.
      Here's a link to something more recent thrown up by the google machine (marijuana+research+memory).

      Of course, if there are things in your life that you'd really like to forget, or in fact need to forget, then it sure may help.

      To hold to the Olympic "ideal" of excluding politics is to be indifferent to the suffering of other humans - which is itself a political act.

      by HiKa on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:53:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No that's not true at all, marijuana is not a drug (0+ / 0-)

        Marijuana is only a slang term for the dried female flowers and leaves of the varieties of cannabis plan that are normally smoked recreationally. The drugs found in cannabis resins are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are some of the most therapeutic and least toxic substances known.

        There is no negative causal relationship between the cannabinoids like THC and CBD on developing brains. In fact, the opposite is far more likely the case. Smoking anything on the other hand definitely has negative affects on all living cells including brain cells. Cannabinoids have been shown to have neural protective properties.  

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 05:45:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Kids already get into their parent's medicine (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      cabinets. Kids already get access to weed, only in this moment, they ruin their lives with arrest records, and expulsions etc., Kids already get access to alcohol too. Kids drink cough and cold medicine to get high.

      They already do all these things.

      Marijuana legalization will be of little consequence.

      I am more worried about Heroin and Opioid abuse.

      The kids that want to get high, are already doing just that.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 08:21:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, Horace Boothroyd III


    Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

    by commonmass on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 09:33:44 PM PST

  •  I've said it before, I'll say it again... (18+ / 0-)

    Pharmaceutical companies have little interest in finding "cures" for anything. There is simply not much profit in it. Treating symptoms is far more lucratrive. Every year you can come out with a new, improved treatment that cost twice as much as the one you created last year. And the best part, from the pharamceutical companies point of view, is that you never loose a customer because they were cured!

    It's really appalling that very little scientific studies have been conducted on Marijuana over the past 4 decades. There are certainly many uses and benefits from this plant once the DEA and our government get out of the way and make it possible for research companies to do studies easily.

    •  this is paranoid CT..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HiKa, OrganicChemist

      and flies in the face of facts.  People with AIDs are being treated effectively with drug company products, not with marijuana.  And those companies are making money turning a fatal disease into chronic disease.

      Now that people will do studies on marijuana, will we report the ones that show it is ineffective, or will those be conspiracies and bad science?  Will we show the bad side effects as well as the excellent results?  

      Do you know what we call traditional remedies that work?  Medicine.

      Doubtless there are benefits of marijuana as well as risks.  I look forward to research to sort this out.  But conspiracies and accusations are not the way to go.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 03:46:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not against Phama (13+ / 0-)

        but my family is living the nightmare of successful marijuana treatment making us criminals. My son is 100% seizure free using pot as his med. This verses $800 - $1500 a month Pharma drugs.  Take into account that he can now work, drive and not be on any government assistance, something Pharma did not allow him to do,  and you get a clear picture of a discriminatory policy.  I am going to speak to a lawyer about suing the state I live in to make it legal.  
             The fact that this substance has not been studied to death for the benefits it can provide is criminal.  The fact that it is illegal is criminal.  The fact that people are suffering and could be helped by a cheap drug is criminal.

        Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

        by tobendaro on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:27:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  While perhaps a simplification (9+ / 0-)

        The idea does explain why pharmaceutical companies are far more interested in developing new statin drugs rather than new anti-biotics.  One medicine is taken for week or two randomly in a person's life, the other is a "rest of your life" pill.

        If I'm not mistaken, besides the high costs, HIV treatments fall into the "rest of your life" category.

        I disagree that the contention that drug companies are less interested in cures than treatments is CT.

        •  No matter what pharma "wants"... (3+ / 0-)

          HIV therapy is by necessity a "rest of your life" regimen. This is because the virus actually becomes part of an infected person's DNA making it virtually impossible to get rid of.

          As to the original comment on this thread: the pharmaceutical companies have not been the main driver for HIV drug discovery. NIH-funded researchers have led the way and then pharma will buy patents of the successful compounds. Pharma doesn't see HIV/AIDS drugs as big enough money makers to warrant the huge sums of money in developing them and bringing them to market.

          There's a lot to hate about big pharma, but largely this is not one of those situations. They aren't the reason that treating a chronic HIV infection necessitates long-term continuous treatment.

          Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, only not as much fun.

          by Toktora on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:53:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I simply cannot agree with this.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            isabelle hayes
            This is because the virus actually becomes part of an infected person's DNA making it virtually impossible to get rid of.
            I just don't believe it is appropriate to use the word impossible. Many things have been impossible until the solution was found. My point is that it is more profitable for a company to pursue a treatement rather than a cure. I don't even understand why that concept is controversial?
            •  You can chose to disagree... (0+ / 0-)

              but that doesn't mean you will have truth on your side.

              HIV is a retrovirus meaning that it integrates its genome into the DNA of the cell that it infects. This means that it in fact becomes part of the cell. The only way to get rid of the virus therefore is to either kill every infected cell in the body or design a really complicated way of disabling the virus in each and every one of the infected cells. To date no such strategy has been achieved, nor is there a straightforward way to do either of these things. Trust me, MANY attempts have been tried and some people such as Paula Cannon are still pursuing strategies to accomplish this currently.

              You may acuse pharmaceutical companies of not pursuing a cure if you'd like, but the fact of the matter is that these companies are in business to make money. If they saw an avenue to pursue that would lead to the eradication of HIV from the bodies of infected people they would jump on it in a heartbeat. But, the basic science knowledge is just not there yet and they're not in business to do basic science.

              As I mentioned previously, drug companies didn't lead the way in even finding drugs to treat HIV. This was done by researchers at the NIH with the discovery of an antiretroviral activity of AZT. It was only following this discovery that pharma got involved. They (Burroughs-Wellcome) were the ones to conduct the clinical trials and bring it to market. Similar stores have played out for most of the other novel anti-HIV drugs where NIH funding drives the years/decades long discovery process and pharma buys the resulting patent(s) and brings the drug to market.

              The point is that from the time that someone has an idea for XXXX therapy/strategy to when it has enough science behind it for market can be incredibly long. AZT was the quickest drug from discovery of action to FDA approval at 25 months, but the newest approved class of anti-HIV drugs, integrase inhibitors, have been under constant study since 2000. It took longer than a decade of NIH funded research to bring this class of drugs to market. There isn't a pharmaceutical company anywhere that would drop that kind of time and cash such a development program. But that's the beauty of our tax dollars funding it - they don't have to. Do the pharmaceutical companies get the benefit too much from our current system? I would argue emphatically "Yes!". But that's a distinctly different quibble entirely.

              Finally, if/when a method for eradicating HIV from a person's body becomes reality, the discovery will have been made by someone outside of pharma. Efforts behind various cure strategies have been ongoing since before 2002 when  I entered science. In that amount of time, I have worked as a research assistant, started and finished my PhD, and done an entire post-doctoral fellowship. That's about the equivalent of a millenium in research years! No company could afford to keep such a development program afloat for so long and at such costs.

              Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, only not as much fun.

              by Toktora on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 05:47:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  I wish that were true, but it's not. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        isabelle hayes, reflectionsv37

        We have a for-Profit medical system with all the negatives that can produce and then some.

        Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

        by GreenMother on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 08:22:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Get MEDUCATED -- medical re-education about plants (1+ / 3-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes
    Hidden by:
    WakeUpNeo, Sharon Wraight, tobendaro

    Share this so people know "how to" the natural way.
    .   Get MEDUCATED -- medical re-education involving plants and minerals.
    SOoooth your BODY without having to CHANGE YOUR MIND
    nor lose your coordination like alcohol!  It's a TOPICAL !

    Please everyone POST THIS valuable info....
    Fine molecule size of the OILS used in the infusion process allows entry through skin plus needs no refrigeration.
    Easier to figure out dosages too.  
    Consistent results with consistent ingredients.

    Please look at both segments of the film....Part I and II
    Wait all the way to the end of part I to find the link to part II.

    SMOKING is mainly used for psychological adjustment…. very similar to way in which "TAPPING" works for pain relief.
    TOPICALS actually fix/ heal/ calm the body while the mind appreciates that feeling. May ALL Grow WELL
    NOTE this is a COPYRIGHT video process, posted March 21 2010.   Free to use, NO COMMERCIAL USE  xo

    PS  >>---->  BODY & MIND POLISH process  
    Leaf is removed from oil after the infusion process.  By volume, combine Himalayan Pink salt and the oily leaf, pack into a tub and pour 1/4 cup any combination of fine quality oils over it.  Easy way is half organic sesame (soaks into skin) and half organic OLIVE oil (coats skin, keeps moisture in body).  Let sit a few weeks in dark cool place, this is called cold infusion.  Thick coating oils will not work well, such as canola, corn oil, peanut oil etc.  Molecules are too large to enter skin surface.  They don't even DIGEST completely.

    Use salt scrub techniques, smoothly polishing the entire body, removing two layers of skin cells, while standing on sheet of plastic or newspaper to avoid getting plant leaf material into bathtub drain. Allow oil/salt/leaf to stay on skin for 10-20 minutes.  Wipe all leaf material off the body, rinse clean in warm water (no soap or cleansers).  Wrap in warm towel, stay in warm room until waves of heartfelt loving delight calm down.  Called Agape, Heart Flooding, Inverse Orgasm, but by any name, the feelings are not genital, may open memories of blissful moments in youth, and subside within a few hours.  Exterior use only, keep out of eyes, ears, etc.

    NEWS:   & lose weight !

    Post this anywhere the idea comes up:
    BAD REGULATIONS.... not GREAT IDEA to take away GUN RIGHTS for medical marijuana patients --- Duh people -- so anyone that knows you are a patient ALSO knows you are defenseless. NOT GREAT for anyone but HORRIBLE for aged, seniors, disabled people!!!
    Such regulations applied to MARRIAGE licenses would be about as sensible.

    EDUCATED about hemp plastics

  •  Thank You for pointing this out... (8+ / 0-)

    With that being said, I don't believe the findings of this experiment mean much in the long term. The Macaques in this study were injected intramuscularly (2x day for 17 months) with chronic D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which resulted in noticeable, but not altogether stunning attenuation in viral load growth, with no discernible differences in CD4 / CD8 counts after death.

    While i will say that am pro legalization and decriminalization of weed, hoping that it will prove a way to treat HIV/AIDS is about as long as long shots get and, even if by some miracle it was shown to eliminate viral load counts to undetectable levels, the end product would probably be a THC pill that was controlled by Big Pharma, rather than the medicinal marijuana that folks so know and love.

    For me, I think the real utility of marijuana in the treatment of HIV/AIDS comes in its use in pain management and, especially, as means of restoring appetite and allowing AIDS defined people who are severely and dangerously underweight and malnourished to return to a healthy weight sooner.

    Whether it's Truvada or Atripla or Stribild or what have you, we already have plenty of good pharmaceutical treatments for restoring HIV+ people's CD4 counts and eliminating their viral load down to undetectable levels. The fight that still needs to be fought, and which has been won in the all of Africa and India and a number of third world nations, is making these drugs affordable to everyone instead of jacking up the prices and having them cost nearly $30,000 a year to take like Stribild does.

    •  The real application is the CBDs that help with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      isabelle hayes, RMForbes

      seizure disorders, and anxiety too.

      And both THC and CBDs have anti-tumor properties.

      Cancer is an epigenetic disease, it's all about various genetic and environmental tipping points. And MJ is on lever that can be used to tip the epigenes in a better direction along with diet, and other anti-tumor herbs and supplements.

      Gentlemen, congratulations. You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training (Zed, MIB).

      by GreenMother on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 08:24:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Marijuana is not a drug...they are cannabinoids (0+ / 0-)

      The herbal cannabinoids found in cannabis resins mimic the natural cannabinoids produced by our body's endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids trigger special endocannabinoid receptors that are found on every soft tissue cell in our body. The endocannabinoid system regulates our blood chemistry, metabolism and immune system which is why cannabinoids are so effective in treating serious disorders like diabetes, cancer, MS, fibromyalgia...etc.

      Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

      by RMForbes on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 06:02:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The more restrictions put on cannabis legalization (10+ / 0-)

    the harder it is to make it work. Look at all the problems with the rollout in Washington v. Colorado. Washington has too many restrictions, growing your own is illegal (a huge mistake) and now there is talk of ending medical marijuana. Look at their confused, arbitrary ban on extracts creating a black market use of a legal product. Sort of like saying that vodka must be limited to 60 proof. I've even heard regulators talking about limiting the amount of light that can be supplied to plants to reduce the THC content. I mean, either it's legal or illegal. What are they saying, you can only get so high? Marijuana already is a pretty limited high when compared with hard drugs and alcohol. The law is confused, the implementers are confused, the local governments are confused, the cops will be confused and they will have problems. And jerks like Sabet and Kennedy who hope to cash in big time with their Soviet- style forced treatment industry (admit you have a problem or go to jail) will talk about how legalization doesn't work.  I consider the 1 oz. limitation in Colorado to be a ridiculous, arbitrary limitation. One of the primary goals of legalization is to wipe out the black market in favor of an orderly, well regulated market, and these artificial limitations allow the black market to continue (though now mostly as a grey market).
    I suppose that legalization will have to be done in baby steps. But in ten years, no one will be able to figure out what the issues were with the limitations.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 10:48:27 PM PST

  •  Thanks, and a nitpick. (11+ / 0-)

    Informative diary, although I suspect this latest article is like so many interesting research papers in that it will be years, if not decades, before it can have practical application.

    And now the nitpick.  Can we please stop saying "HIV virus"?  HIV stands for the "human immunodeficiency virus."  So the virus part is already built in.  There's no need to repeat it.  (See also "ATM machine" and "PIN number")

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 11:54:48 PM PST

  •  The culture of obedience and human husbandry (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    go hand in hand to enable humans to exploit their own kind to their detriment without actually killing them off.

    It's an abusive practice. It persists, in part, because we are focused on death, which we can't ultimately prevent, and ignore the abuses a prompt intervention could contain.

    by hannah on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 12:34:27 AM PST

  •  The jury is in (8+ / 0-)

    And weed is good for you. We have one of the most extensive epidemiological experiences with Marijuana, over 10,000 years and millions of people, if not 100s of millions and we can't come up with a serious draw-back. Contrast that to the extensive positives.

    Time for government to take their hands off of our weed and do something useful, like High Speed Rail or dismantling the NSA...

  •  Seems plausible. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kharma, Yasuragi, corvo, isabelle hayes
    Over the course of that period, scientists found that damage to immune tissue in the primates' stomachs, one of the most common areas in the body for HIV infection to spread, decreased.
    Based on what I know about the stomach-calming effects of smoking marijuana after hangovers or for nausea, I would conclude that there is possibly some truth to this.

    Of course, time will tell. Thanks so much for this information.

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:33:59 AM PST

  •  Small correction - re "apostasies" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Toktora, Yasuragi, RMForbes

    From your third paragraph:

    and even cause cancer cells to go through apostasies (essentially self-destruct)
    Apostasy is the abandonment of one's religious beliefs.
    The word you are looking for there is apoptosis which is a type of programmed cell death, that is natural cell death. This is in contrast to necrosis which is where a cell is killed by some outside influence. What is different about cancer cells is that they generally don't die from natural apoptosis, which is part of why they cause uncontrolled growths called tumors. Something which can cause cancer cells to "re-program" to a natural death by apoptosis would indeed be very useful.

    I haven't read the linked article, and I wouldn't be surprized if the substitution of apostasies for apoptosis was a spell-checker spelling-undoing.

    I make no other comment as to scientific content as my training is in mathematics and I only know the above stuff from spending too long in the company of medically trained family and friends.

    (OK, I can't resist one last bit to say that one significant difference between traditional medicine employing botanicals and modern pharmaceuticals is dosage control. Depending on what is used, small changes in dosage can be critical in the difference between beneficial and badly detrimental. The major problem with modern pharmaceuticals is the massive profit motives of the manufacturing companies, versus the public health benefit motivation of government funded pharma research.)


    To hold to the Olympic "ideal" of excluding politics is to be indifferent to the suffering of other humans - which is itself a political act.

    by HiKa on Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 04:34:10 AM PST

  •  I think thats just because it makes you less horny (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Infecting animals with HIV to then use them as (0+ / 0-)

    test subjects is immoral.  It disgusts me!

  •  Drunks wrote our marijuana laws. (0+ / 0-)

    My friend who shall remain nameless, his name is... I mean, let's call her "Jane." He... I mean she smoked joints long before she ever smoked cigarettes. So it's true that pot is a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

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