Skip to main content

As the push to legalize marijuana for personal or medical use gains traction in the USA, the "pro-pot" arguments become more enthusiastic and more off the beaten track of real science. I suspect, like legal same sex marriage, social norms have changed, and legal marijuana is something that will become commonplace across the country, except in some deeply conservative areas. The Federal Government has shown little enthusiasm in enforcing Federal law, which retains the highest authority in regulating certain drugs, in states that allow legal marijuana.

I personally have no issue with smoking marijuana, since other "drugs", like alcohol, are completely legal and socially acceptable. I think that legalizing marijuana will reduce much of drug trafficking, reduce the burden of law enforcement and penal system costs, and have other beneficial effects to society. I still want regulations such as control over public smoking (I don't want second hand cannabis smoke wafting over me or my children, as much as I don't want to inhale other people's tobacco smoke), there needs to be regulations about when it might be illegal to be high (I don't want my Delta Airlines pilot to be smoking weed before flying my jet, and I don't want automobile drivers to be under the influence), and I want age regulations no different than there is for alcohol. But I think those are reasonable boundaries for legalization of cannabis that would be reasonable to most people. But this isn't the point of this article.

What troubles me about the "debate" about legalization of cannabis is that the pro-pot side seems to make claims about various medical benefits that appear to be only tenuously supported by real scientific evidence. The reasons for doing this is probably, though I can only speculate, to make it appear that marijuana is some miracle product, so let's speed up the legalization of it. It's like the Food Babe telling us that kale is the miracle food, except that kale isn't illegal. It does taste awful (but not the point).

Background

On the internet, you will find numerous memes, blog posts, and even mainstream articles that are claiming that smoking pot, eating pot, rubbing hemp oil (which is manufactured from the seeds of Cannabis plants that don't contain much THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active hallucinogenic agent of cannabis), or doing something with all or a part of a cannabis plant will cure or prevent some disease, mostly, but not exclusively, cancers.

Famously, marijuana has been used as an anti-emitic to ameliorate or mitigate nausea and vomiting after radiotherapy and chemotherapy in cancer treatment. In fact, marijuana has been smuggled into some cancer wards since the late 1930's. Unfortunately, even with this indication, there have been negative results in some well designed clinical trials and some positive results in others. It's probably a combination of the individual and their particular genotype, the type of cancer, and the type of chemotherapy. And let's include a huge dose of the placebo effect (which some skeptics think isn't real, but others do).

But even as an anti-emitic, marijuana has no curative power, it's a palliative treatment for the nasty side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the treatment of cancer. Since weight lost and wasting are side-effects of cancer treatments, anything that can prevent the nausea and vomiting can lead to better medical and lifestyle outcomes in cancer treatment.

Is there any evidence out there that actual cannabis or its byproducts have any effect on cancers or neurological conditions? Before we start, let's remember that there are 100 to over 200 different types of cancer (the actual number depends on how some researchers subdivide some types) in humans. And each of these different cancers have different pathophysiologies, different genetics, different prognoses, different causes, and different treatments. In other words, it is not one singular disease with one unified course of treatment.

If I could make a recommendation, always be skeptical when someone makes some claim that "XYZ cures or prevents cancer", because that's going to be nearly impossible. Every cancer is so different with such different physiology, there is just never going to be a magic pill. And if a cancer has become metastatic, there is simply no way one treatment can work. And preventing cancer becomes more problematic. It usually takes numerous, up to 10, independent mutations of a cell before it can become a growing, metastatic cancer. Each mutation is selected, as in natural selection, because it provides some benefit to the cancer cell, such as causing blood vessels to supply the cells for nutrition and oxygen, or the ability to divide rapidly, whatever the feature is. They aren't "naturally" a part of the cell, but caused by a mutation. And these mutations are more or less random, and they can't be prevented by anything special. You can't down 500 Vitamin C tablets and expect it to block these rare mutations.

So before I head down the the road of whether THC or cannabis has any effect on any particular disease, I'm not going to play the argument from ignorance. If there isn't any evidence that marijuana or THC doesn't cure a particular condition, then that means there's no evidence. I don't have evidence there's a pink unicorn walking on Mars, but I'm fairly certain of it. So don't say "no one has never researched smoking weed on reduced brain cancer, so you don't know if it does." Nope, I don't do those kind of arguments. If there is no evidence that smoking cannabis cures brain cancer, we cannot claim that it cures brain cancer.

The first step I take before I investigate any internet claim is to examine the quality of the evidence supporting the claim. Mostly, I want to find systematic reviews of clinical research to give me the best possible evidence of whether a potential therapy has actual clinical usefulness. A search of theCochrane Reviews, which can be a useful tool in finding a scientific consensus in a new therapy, shows not one systematic review of THC or cannabis in cancer therapy, although there are some that look at mental disorders (which is still important). There are numerous reasons why Cochrane may not have a review about a procedure or drug, mainly because there just aren't enough clinical studies of high enough quality to roll up into a systematic review. That's a clue, but it's more a lack of evidence rather they are overwhelmed by solid evidence.

Let's see what's going on recently. Remember, if some article was published 10 years ago, and there's not one single follow-up study, it's dead on the vine, meaning that no one was able to repeat the data. No one was able to move it from some cell-culture or animal model to a human clinical trial. This happens all of the time, because failure in oncology drugs is the norm. Remember, if you find a study published in 1995, and it's never cited or never repeated, that's probably because it couldn't be repeated. That's how science works.

Cancer

First, we should review some of the better studies in marijuana research on cancer. A couple of points: first, most of the research is primary, and has yet to be repeated widely, and second, there is little or no clinical evidence which can be used in systematic reviews of cannabis, which would form the basis of evidence based medicine of using cannabis in a clinical setting.

  • Breast cancer. A recent review of the relevant research regarding the use of cannabinoids (the essential active compounds of marijuana) in the war on breast cancer concludes that “our current knowledge on the anti-tumor potential of cannabinoids in breast cancer, which suggests that cannabinoid-based medicines may be useful for the treatment of most breast tumor subtypes.” All of this research is based on rodent studies, and the joke in scientific research circles is that we’ve cured cancer in mice for decades. It’s important to understand that only a tiny percentage of therapeutic cancer drugs make it from an animal study clinical trial (about 5%), and even then, only about  less than 8% (pdf) of oncology drugs that enter clinical trials actually end up being approved for use in humans. In other words, there’s only a 0.4% chance of any drug that’s being tested on cells or mice is ever going to end up being approved for human use. There is no nefarious conspiracy going on to block these drugs, it’s that in clinical trials the vast majority of these compounds fail to show effectiveness beyond their safety issues. And in cancer therapy, sometimes drugs that have a 51:49 benefit to risk ratio, and only keep a person alive for a few months get approved. So, the ones that don’t make are remarkably ineffective or unsafe. There is just no evidence that cannabis will treat or prevent breast cancer in humans. None. But let’s hope that it will fall in the 0.4% category.
  • Breast cancer. Again. Let's say that we actually can gather evidence that marijuana has an effect on breast cancer. First, we need to determine how much THC actually would kill most breast cancer cells. In one study, the researchers determined that it would take a concentration of cannabinoids of approximately 10 µmol/L to cause the death breast cancer cells in cell culture. This converts to around 3.14mg/L of THC. So, you’d have to assume that to kill any breast cancer cells, you’d need at least a blood level of 3.14 mg/L to achieve breast cancer cell death. So how close to that 3.14 mg/L can we get by just smoking a joint or two? According to research, smoking one joint will give you a blood level of THC of around 1.3-6.4 ng/mL serum, or about .00013-.00064 mg/L. In other words, to get an anti-cancer effect, you need to light up around 1000 joints per day. Yes every single day until every single breast cancer cell would die. Of course, your lungs couldn’t tolerate that, nor probably your ability to function in any “normal” manner. Of course, you could consume this in other ways, for example ingesting it, but again, you’d need to eat more than 1000 joints (because less digestion is less efficient in absorbing THC than the lungs, which is why it is smoked). And these levels may be more generally toxic to body, in effect killing you. If we ever uncover clinical evidence that marijuana "cures" breast cancer, Big Pharma will spend the money researching which molecule is actually responsible, the over all toxic dose, the amount necessary to kill the cancer cells, and how to deliver it. And then they will patent it, because they did all the hard work, and they will get $10,000 a dose (just a guess). So, let's be clear. Smoking a couple of joints is NOT going to cure your breast cancer.
  • Colon cancer. In a recent article, researchers examined the effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic ingredient of cannabis, on chemically induced cancerous colon cells in cell culture. The authors concluded that it could prevent colon cancer. Now, if I was harsh about mouse research as being an indicator of clinical success, I’d be harsher about cell cultures. This was tested on chemically induced colon cancers, which may or may not have the same pathophysiology of in situ colon carcinomas. And once again, we lack any clinical evidence that it might work in humans, but I guess this is another bet into the 0.4% chance column.
  • Glioma. Junk medicine hawkers have been pushing hash oil to “cure” gliomas, a type of malignant brain and central nervous system cancer. It is based upon some preliminary research on just 9 patients in Spain. Only two of the patients survived more than a year, while the seven others had a course of the disease not different than what is experienced in typical treatments of gliomas. In fact, in the two patients who survived the longest (yet still died), the effect can be attributable to spontaneous (but temporary) regression of the disease, a fairly common event. In a review of these studies and claims, the author stated, “I didn’t find anything I would call “earth-shattering” or even anything that could be considered credible evidence that hash oil can cure advanced gliomas.” At this point, there is no supporting evidence that hash oil should be considered the first, second, third, or fourth line of treatment for gliomas. Right now, we have observations (which are just barely above anecdotes on the scale of scientific evidence) that hash oil might work. And maybe those observations can be used to create an hypothesis which can be tested in a controlled clinical trial. But until that point, there is no evidence that hash oil works to treat glioma. None.
  • Lung cancer. In this case, it’s not about whether cannabis can treat lung cancer, but whether it actually causes it. In a recent retrospective epidemiological study, the authors stated, “in conclusion, the results of the present study indicate that long-term cannabis use increases the risk of lung cancer in young adults.” There is a “belief” that smoking pot is less problematic than smoking other types of plant material, such as tobacco. That is a false assertion, because the reason why smoking is so tied to lung cancer is that the epithelial lining of the lung is susceptible to carcinogens; moreover, as the authors state, part of gaining effects of the pot is to inhale deeply and hold the smoke in the lungs for a greater period of time than in cigarettes (and certain cigars), it might actually increase the exposure of lung cells to the smoke and any associated carcinogens. To be fair, the evidence is conflicting, but even in one large study that shows no conclusive evidence that there is an increased risk of lung cancer in non-cigarette smoking individuals, there appears to be increased risks for some types of cancer amongst marijuana smokers, including prostate cancer.
  • Clinical trials involving cannabis and cancer. There are currently 8000 clinical trials that are recruiting patients for anti-cancer drugs (and over 19000 that are closed to patients), and as far as I can tell, there are none registered for marijuana, or isolated cannibinoids, dronabinol and nabilone.  On the clinicaltrials.gov website, which tracks every clinical trial registered across the world (and in case you’re going to ask, no one would have a real clinical trial and not register it, since it shows you have regulatory approval to begin a trial), there is precisely one cannibinoid being used to treat cancer, and that is Sativex, which is a patented drug of nabixomols isolated from the marijuana plant. This study is just a Phase 1 trial, it hasn’t recruited any patients, and is years from providing us with any meaningful results. There might appear to be a lot of research into cannabis using cell culture and animal models, but none have been transferred over to human clinical trials. This is not unusual, because even though it seems that there is a lot of research into cannabis and cancer, the total mass of research into other compounds with respect to cancer is substantially larger, because the evidence for both mechanisms of the treatment and clinical successes for these other products are much higher. Look at it this way–there are currently over . Cannabis research is a tiny speck (though not an insignificant speck) of the cancer research world, compared to the vast body of research currently ongoing. Cancer research isn’t randomly throwing compounds at cells and seeing if they work or not, it’s a logical process to determine if a compound has a reasonable chance of inhibiting some part of the cancer growth or development. There is some potential for cannabis, but it probably doesn’t compare to what is currently in the 27,000 compounds in current clinical research, and, in a business sense, the return on investment for researching compounds that have better understood pharmacologic mechanisms of action on cancer are higher.

Neurological disorders

Of course, cancer isn't the only place where research is ongoing. If you read the story regarding CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who claimed he changed his mind about marijuana, you'd know he was also convinced that marijuana had some great potential in mental health. But is there really in high quality evidence?

  • Dementia. As I've said before, the nearly gold standard of medical research is the Cochrane Reviews (they are great, but not perfect), so I looked there for systematic reviews that roll up the data from many clinical trials. And in the case of demential, Cochrane concluded that it doesn't help. The authors concluded that "this review finds no evidence that cannabinoids are effective in the improvement of disturbed behaviour in dementia or in the treatment of other symptoms of dementia."
  • Epilepsy. Another Cochrane Review examined the effect of smoking cannabis on epilepsy (an anecdote shared by Dr. Gupta). The authors found "no reliable conclusions can be drawn at present regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids as a treatment for epilepsy." This means what it means, that a thorough systematic review of clinical research currently available on marijuana's effects on epilepsy has shown nothing. Sure, maybe better trials will show it's quite efficacious, but remember, that doesn't mean it will be so. And physicians treating epilepsy need to stick with evidence based medicine.
  • In arecent systematic review published inNeurologythe effect of marijuana was analyzed with respect to several neurological disorders and conditions. They included 34 clinical studies since 1948 (an extremely small number, because there just so few clinical studies), and looked at three different forms of cannabinoids–oral, THC, and synthetic. Here are their conclusions:

  • Spasticity, or chronic spasms of large muscles. All three forms showed some reduction in spasticity, though THC may take longer than a year to improve the condition.
  • Treatment of pain in multiple sclerosis. Most forms show a positive clinical effect, but THC probably has no effect.
  • Treatment of bladder dysfunction in multiple sclerosis. Nabiximols, a synthetic cannabinoid, seemed to work. The other forms of cannabis had no effect.
  • Treatment of tremors in multiple sclerosis. In this case, nabiximols have no effect, but other forms do.
  • Treatment of involuntary movements. Ineffective for Parkinson's disease, and insufficient data for other forms, such as Tourette's Syndrome.
  • Decrease seizures in epilepsy. There was insufficient data to support or refute its use, although the Cochrane Review above says about the same thing in a different way.
  • Despite the incredibly small number of patients included in all of these trials, the authors found that more patients stopped using THC because of adverse effects (6.9%) vs placebo (2.2%).  Such a large dropout can bias the results of primary clinical trials and systematic reviews.
  • The placebo effect (reported to be as high as 70%) is a major impediment to determining whether cannabis has any effect on these neurological conditions. If there's nothing more than a placebo effect, which is really no effect whatsoever, then the numerous, albeit minor, adverse events outweigh the benefits, and it should not be added to body of literature regarding evidence based medicine.


I have heard the Strawman Arguments that Big Pharma, the FDA, the National Cancer Institute (if the cannabis supporters know it exists), and the US Government suppress all the research that show how great cannabis is for cancer and other clinical indications because those groups don’t want pot to be legal. As amusing as that argument might be (and it’s a fairly bad one), if cannabis or any of its components actually could show efficacy against any of the 200 or so cancers, Big Pharma would be all over it. Because, they would not be selling joints, they would be isolating the active ingredient, defining the exact dose, determining how to deliver it to the local cancer site in the body, funding clinical trials, filing documentation with the FDA, then getting it into physician’s hands. This is not an easy process, but it would be a profitable one if it worked. Big Pharma and the National Cancer Institute are looking at everything, and they ignore nothing for potential in treating cancers. If cannabis works (and it might), they are all over it. Big Pharma is providing a lot of the funding for it.

Risks of smoking marijuana

There are known risks to individuals who smoke marijuana. This is uniformly ignored by everyone, and there are even false claims that somehow smoking cannabis is safer than smoking other plants, like cigarettes. Part of the belief lies in the Appeal to Nature fallacy, which, in this case, implies that somehow marijuana is purer and healthier. Theenvironmental damage from the poisons used to grow marijuana (which will, in fact, remain on the plant, and make up part of the what is inhaled) are legendary.

One of the reasons tobacco smoking is dangerous is that the epithelial cells in the lung, which make up a huge surface area of cells, are extraordinarily sensitive to environmental damages like air pollution and smoking. Though there is some evidence that marijuana smoking is lesscarcinogenic than tobacco, and in fact has components that have the opposite effects than tobacco smoke. But that shouldn't be read that marijuana smoke has no carcinogenic properties, it is just less than cigarettes.

On the other hand, marijuana smoke deposits 4X as much tar in the lungs as do cigarettes. Although this may not be carcinogenic, tar can lead to the same non-cancer long-term damage to the lungs as do tobacco products–emphysema, bronchitis and lung infections.

There's also some recent evidence, published in a high impact factor journal, Human Reproduction, which found nearly double the risk of poor sperm morphology (with the possible result of infertility) after smoking marijuana (while cigarette smoking, type of underwear, and other myths about male fertility were shown to be irrelevant).

In other words, if we're looking at marijuana as a medical product, it's risks are known and real. If I were a medical researcher (oh wait....), and if marijuana had a real value medically (say it did cure breast cancer), smoking it would be the worst possible way to deliver the drug to the body. As I mentioned above, I would isolate the compound in marijuana that actually killed breast cancer cells, figure out a way to carry that molecule to the target site at the appropriate dose, and avoid harming the lungs. That's how a real medical product works.

Summary for the TL;DR readers

Recently the New York Times reported that New York State started the legislative process "to join 22 states in legalizing medical marijuana for patients with a diverse array of debilitating ailments, encompassing epilepsy and cancer, Crohn’s disease and Parkinson’s." But, as the New York Times stated,

...yet there is no rigorous scientific evidence that marijuana effectively treats the symptoms of many of the illnesses for which states have authorized its use. Instead, experts say, lawmakers and the authors of public referendums have acted largely on the basis of animal studies and heart-wrenching anecdotes. The results have sometimes confounded doctors and researchers.
So, does marijuana work to prevent or cure cancer? There is little evidence that it prevents cancer and a little evidence that it can cure cancer. But these are very limited in vivo and animal studies, very preliminary and not in controlled clinical trials. Just to give a little perspective, less than 8% (pdf) of oncology drugs that enter clinical trials actually end up being approved for use in humans. The failure rate is rather large because the efficacy is generally measured in small amounts for many types of cancers.

For neurological disorders, there are some, but not broad, indicators that THC or its derivatives, could have benefits. But, it's clouded by the extremely small size of clinical trials, a large potential placebo effect, bad trial design, and different kinds of bias. The systematic reviews tend to heavily qualify their conclusions, mainly because of the lack of large, gold-standard, clinical trials. In other words, there isn't enough, at this time, for a neurologist to say "this will help." We don't know. Which, again, does not mean you can proclaim that if we don't know, the we do know.

Dr David Gorski, a noted oncologist and medical researcher, whose knowledge and expertise in these areas matter quite a bit, reviewed the research in many of the medical claims about marijuana and concluded that,

There’s no doubt that what is driving the legalization of medical marijuana in so many states has far more to do with politics than with science. Right now, for all but a handful of conditions, the evidence is slim to nonexistent that cannabis has any use as a medicine, and those conditions, such as CINV and chronic pain, can often be treated more reliably with purified or synthesized active components. Moreover, for one condition for which there is reasonably good evidence for the efficacy of cannabis and/or cannabinoids, namely chronic pain, politicians are reluctant to approve medical marijuana.
This is the same thing with a lot of science in this country. Political expediency trumps real scientific research. Anthropogenic global warming, which is backed by a wealth of evidence, is rejected because it's a "liberal conspiracy" or some such nonsense. Well, now politicians want to allow marijuana because of medical benefits, almost all of which are unsupported by real scientific evidence, while ignoring some of the known risks of smoking the drug. If politicians want to make marijuana legal, do so because it's a recreational drug, not unlike alcohol.

The world of medical marijuana is using the same weak evidence, the same ignorance of risks, and the same logical fallacies you hear from those who push "natural" herbs or supplements. And the more we look the more we find that there's nothing there. We need to separate recreational use of marijuana from medical use. They are not the same, and one shouldn't support the other.

If you want to smoke marijuana (or eat it in a brownie–not sure that's a thing anymore, it was when I was in college) because it's relaxing, or you need to blow off steam after a tough day, fine. Go for it. I absolutely do not understand why this usage is illegal. It's costly to society. And banning it provides no benefit to society.

On the other hand, I, and other skeptics, find most, if not all, of the medical claims made about marijuana to be laughable. The evidence is just so weak or non-existent, I actually have no clue why it's part of the discourse, but then again people deny evolution, and we end up arguing that. Yes, there are bits and pieces of intriguing evidence that a component of marijuana may have some benefits to human health. But we're a long ways from testing that with real clinical trials, then getting it to market. And trust me, when someday we have found some real clinically significant uses, it's not going to be sold as a "joint." It's going to be developed into some sort of medical delivery formulation (like a pill or injectable solution) that gets the purified pharmacologically relevant compound to the physiological site where it would work. That's how real medical science works.

Notes:

  1. I have a policy of open commenting and dissent to my articles. I only delete spam, racism, and just random nonsense. Please comment here if you wish, because I know everyone has an opinion on pot. You can say that I'm full of equine manure, but you better have peer-reviewed evidence.   
  2. There is a US Patent that has, as one of its statements, “This invention relates to the use of phytocannabinoids, either in an isolated form or in the form of a botanical drug substance (BDS), as a prophylactic or in the treatment of cancer.” There are memes that state that Big Pharma knows that cannabinoids cure cancer or else they wouldn’t have patented it. However, patents do not represent peer-reviewed science, and merely conjecture on the part of the patent holder, so that they may potentially block anyone from manufacturing the drug for the use that it claims. There is no evidence that this cannabinoid has any real potential of doing anything until such time that there are randomized clinical trials that support these claims. So, don't mention patents. They mean absolutely nothing, because drug companies continuously file patents when they even think something might do something. Most drug patents never end up being drugs.   
  3. Let me remind you that the quality of the source used matters, and cherry picking primary studies to support a Confirmation Bias is not not how real skepticism works. Remember, if some article was published 10 years ago, and there’s not one single follow-up study, it’s dead on the vine, meaning that no one was able to repeat the data.   
  4. Do not accuse me of cherry-picking. There are lots of published articles out there using THC or something else in mice or cells. That's not clinical evidence, which is the gold standard. Let me repeat an old adage–we have cured cancer over 100,000 times in mice. Because those models just tell us maybe it works. It never tells us that it does work.   
  5. If you're going to make a lame Big Pharma Shill Gambit to invent some claim that I, and my friends, are suppressing scientific knowledge about how valuable marijuana will be to "curing cancer." Bring evidence, first by understanding what is cancer.
Key citations:
EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    Skepticism is evaluating the quality and quantity of evidence to reach a conclusion. It is not gathering evidence to support a closed minded conclusion.

    by SkepticalRaptor on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:30:29 PM PDT

  •  Research has just begun on this so you (12+ / 0-)

    might revisit this one day

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:48:50 PM PDT

  •  The one that I have seen (12+ / 0-)

    on several occasions is the anti-emitic.  I have known several people who couldn't or had no desire to eat while on chemo that weed has helped.

    My wife and I recently had to have a long conversation with her parents about it.  They nervously asked us if we had any "experience" with weed.  We allowed as how we did.  We re-assured them that they wouldn't go psychotic, they both smoked some (father in solidarity with mother who was the one on chemo).

    Neither went psychotic, and my wife's mother said it helped a bit.

    As for the rest of it the claims, I will leave it to others who know.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:53:51 PM PDT

  •  Even the the TLDR part is TL, but... (31+ / 0-)

    In one paragraph you say:

    If you want to smoke marijuana (or eat it in a brownie–not sure that's a thing anymore, it was when I was in college) because it's relaxing, or you need to blow off steam after a tough day, fine. Go for it. I absolutely do not understand why this usage is illegal.
    Then in the next, you say:
    On the other hand, I, and other skeptics, find most, if not all, of the medical claims made about marijuana to be laughable.
    Well gee, isn't using marijuana for, "relaxing," a medical use of the drug? Personally I prefer it to valium.

    The government rarely allows researchers access to marijuana for trials -- and when they do, the researchers get fired. So of course there aren't many trials. However, there's enough evidence in patients and doctors experiences to know that, indeed, marijuana has medical uses.

    I know, DR -- but really TL. I did skim through most of it though, and find it to be a hit piece on medical marijuana. I disagree with you. Many doctors do too.

    •  At the risk of propagating an urban myth... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Minnesota Deb, angel d, Rogneid

      I've always heard there's only a handful of test subjects spread across the country, paid by the government for research on the benefits of marijuana.

      That said, it's not a myth that other countries (like Israel, for one) continue to allocate a lot of funding for research. Why don't we?

      This really isn't an issue calling for a 'leading from behind' strategy.

      With the right leadership, we could end up with a brand new [literal] green economy bustin' out all over the place.

      "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

      by markthshark on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:37:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually there was one researcher funded by the (8+ / 0-)

        US Government to work on marijuana and PTSD. One.

        And as soon as her grant was approved the University of Arizona fired her.

        Veterans, medical marijuana activists and scientists welcomed the first federally approved research into pot as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

        But their hopes for the research were dashed when the University of Arizona fired researcher Suzanne Sisley, who undertook the study after clearing four years of bureaucratic hurdles.Arizona fired her.

        Boston Herald

        Our government has spent very little to research the medical properties of marijuana, which makes this diary not only TL;DR, but rather pointless.
    •  Legalize research, sort it out. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrganicChemist

      With a better research program we can weed out (sorry) the quack claims and find the pleasant surprises that come from investigating things that modulate brain systems.

      For now despite its crippling weaknesses anecdotal evidence is all we've got.

      Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:26:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are very few quack claims. (0+ / 0-)
        With a better research program we can weed out (sorry) the quack claims
        Most claims about the medicinal effects have been verified by people's and their doctors' experiences. Just because the author ridicules marijuana as an ineffective treatment for cancer, doesn't mean that it isn't.

        skepticalraptor is incorrect about this:

        anecdotal evidence is all we've got
        In California there are many patients with pot cards but most of them do not suffer from chronic illnesses. One can get even a pot card for almost any reason in CA -- even to stimulate creativity. However enough Californians suffer from serious conditions for which marijuana has been shown to be the best treatment, that there's little doubt as to whether marijuana has any medical benefit. It does.

        People in areas with backwards pot laws should get out of the mindset that marijuana is bad, period. Alcohol is legal -- and it should be, despite its danger. The only reason pot is illegal is so law enforcement can have a whole class of underprivileged people it can oppress with impunity.

        It's time to change that.

  •  Personally, I've heard enough anecdotal claims (21+ / 0-)

    that pot helps the pain I have (fibromyalgia) to be willing to give it a shot.

    My husband knows what it does to him; it puts him to sleep.  That would be very useful when he has insomnia issues. He often does just now.

    Help me get my utilities on! I can't eat this elephant by myself. http://www.gofundme.com/8xw014

    by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:57:10 PM PDT

    •  Chronic pain (4+ / 0-)

      is the reason I most often hear why people are using it -- and since trad medicine does notoriously badly at dealing with chronic pain, that alone would be a huge help to patients. (On the other hand, placebo effect is also a major issue for chronic pain, so it's hard to document that it's the weed.)

      I'm with your husband -- the only effect I ever noticed was sleepiness, and I've never needed help going to sleep, so have no interest in smoking it.

    •  Fellow fibro sufferer here, too. I've been want... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joeschmeaux, Throw The Bums Out

      Fellow fibro sufferer here, too. I've been wanting to try pot for pain for quite some time now. It's still technically illegal here in Minnesota and I don't know anyone who uses pot to ask if I could try some. Chronic pain sufferers keep getting denied necessary meds from doctors who are afraid of the DEA monitoring prescriptions and because people who aren't in pain are selling and using the meds. I've told my husband that I don't know how many more years of this pain I can keep surviving. I'm sure you're familiar with days where taking a shower is a 'job' in itself, let alone getting out of bed (just a note that I do shower every day cuz I'd feel worse if I didn't). :) We discuss (more me than him) moving to a different country with universal health care so I could maybe get better treatment that wouldn't bankrupt us. I've always been insured, but have a current medical bill of almost $5000 I'm working on. Deductibles go up every year and it's just ridiculous what Americans pay for in health care. Anywho, sorry about the rant. ;) I'm just excited to 'meet' a fellow fibro Kossack.

  •  good for you. now pass the blunt and relax. (31+ / 0-)

    did a pothead steal your girlfriend?

    I sing praises in the church of nonsense, but in my heart I'm still an atheist, demanding sense of all things.

    by jbou on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 03:59:09 PM PDT

  •  I do not use pot. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Marti, angel d, Rogneid, craiger

    I prefer alcohol which is probably worse than pot.

    Alcohol helps with my chronic pain.

    Friends and relatives tell me marijuana helps with their symptoms. That is good enough for me.

    •  I feel your (chronic) pain (6+ / 0-)

      weed is better for you than booze

      just sayin'

      I like both but one has more deleterious effects than the other.  Weed never gives me a hang over.  Weed never leads me to believe I am capable of doing something I ought not to be doing and in fact, when I'm high, I'm more likely to err on the side of caution and exercise restraint.

      I make waaaaay less typos when I text when I'm high than when I'm drunk.

      Weed doesn't make me puke or give me a hangover or leave me dehydrated or with a sour stomach or other gastric disorders.

      Weed is GOOD for a hangover, in fact.  

      But not everyone is lucky enough to live in one of two states where weed is legal and where one can have it (along with chocolate bars, gummy bears, lollypops and other cannabinoid-infused goodies) delivered to one's doorstep.  

      In fact, except for wine and an occasional beer, I don't drink nearly as much as I used to!

      •  My college students think so too (4+ / 0-)

        They believe there is no after-effect and that they're fully functional during a smoking session and the next morning. As their professor, I beg to differ. They are way more impaired than they recognize.

        The same is true for alcohol, of course, but I'm talking about the ones who don't drink, but do use marijuana, either "medically" or recreationally.

        •  Lol... thanks for the expert opinion from someo... (0+ / 0-)

          Lol... thanks for the expert opinion from someone who has obviously never touched the stuff... perhaps these college kids smoked just before your class to get through the misery of an anal retentive sermon that is the majority of college lectures... ever think of that one? Nah.. but here is another expert opinion of my own... after observing several different rugby fans it is clear that they are delusional and not quite right in the head...

    •  ethanol consumption isn't a health or medical (3+ / 0-)

      therapy.  

      Ethanol consumption is considered a clear carcinogenic hazard by the International Association for Research on Cancer.

      Ethanol metabolizes to acetaldehyde and acetic acid in the blood stream.   Acetaldehyde is a proven human carcinogen {and a Clean Air Act hazardous air pollutant].  

      Exposure of your vasculature to ethanol and its metabolites causes inflammation.   Ethanol consumption is a serious exacerbator of hypertension.

      •  I'm going to disagree just a bit.... (0+ / 0-)

        For very light users of alcohol - specifically a few glasses of red wine a week, I think it is pretty well accepted that that is beneficial for most healthy people. The problem is that there is a pretty sharp change from good to bad if you go beyond the few glasses a week for the reasons you iterate along with many others.

  •  Very thorough review, excellently done. (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks!

    A word to the wise is sufficient. Republicans need at least a paragraph.

    by d3clark on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:04:35 PM PDT

  •  what the hell is this, some screed you published ? (9+ / 0-)

    elsewhere and don't link to, or copied whole and didn't credit the author? Is this a copywrite violation?

    And wtf cause no one would be dumb enough here to say they delete remarks and all of that nonsense.

    And what would be your motivation in all this and who are you again that we should buy all this you are selling?

     Are you part of an organization against medical marijuana or legalization in general that is coming to a vote in the key state of California, again?...a stae that saw exactly this Gish Gallop of bullshit back the last time as well.

     Where are you coming from, dude?

    Are you part of some internet effort to campaign against the legalization effort in  California, because I have sure seen the same  high toned bullshit from several others, slightly rewritten, especially the part about
    'I've got nothing against pot smoking, only the claims about medicine etcetcetc'...it is creepy and it's transparent and it's a talking point off a focus group storyboard.

    I'm not buying one ounce of this skunkweed.

    Go ahead and delete me, I ain't coming back...

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:20:36 PM PDT

    •  It's crossposted at (5+ / 0-)

      www.skepticalraptor(dot)com (I don't want to direct traffic there). It would be good for the diarist to mention that, but it was pretty obv after reading his notes rules and clicking his profile. Here's the first paragraph in his about me on his blog:

      After spending years in the medical industry, I decided to blog about my thoughts on a wide range of issues in the healthcare industry, science, and skepticism. I am a firm supporter of science-based medicine. I will debunk quackery and pseudoscience whenever possible. Oh, and I'll talk about sports.
      I guess he posted this diary to inform kossacks who believe pot has medical benefits that their views on the matter are, "laughable." From his diary, it's pretty clear that he has an anti-medical pot agenda. However I don't think he knows much about marijuana in general, nor do I don't think he realizes just how smart most kossacks are.

      FWIW, the funniest part of his rules is this:

      You can say that I'm full of equine manure
      because at least according to the rules, you can't say that on DK.
    •  You're not dealing with anything specific the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrganicChemist

      diarist stated in the diary, but you're trying to portray it all as 100% bad faith material.

      The diarist is stating that the anti-cancer claims being made for cannabis use are not legitimate medical science and/or verified evidence of efficacy in anti-carcinogenic action.   If you have a problem with that position, at least it would be helpful to hear a science and evidence-based reply from you why the diarist's claim is not correct.....but that hasn't been forthcoming.

  •  Clinical trials are blocked by NIDA and the DEA (21+ / 0-)

    That's why you aren't finding any clinical studies on medical marijuana.  (Cannabidiols are not quite the same thing)

    Because Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, NIDA is the only agency in the country that is allowed to dispense it for clinical trials.   If you can't get them to give you the marijuana you will never be able to do any research.  

    I suggest you read the MAPS site on Medical Marijuana research.  They have been at the forefront of dealing with governmental red tape for decades.  

    Our efforts to initiate medical marijuana research have been hindered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since our founding in 1986. NIDA's monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research and the DEA's refusal to allow researchers to grow their own has restricted medical marijuana research for decades. For over 12 years, MAPS was involved in legal struggles against the DEA to end this situation.
    The good news is that earlier this year they were finally granted permission to perform placebo-controlled studies of marijuana in PTSD patients. (PDF)  

    The bad news is that NIDA admits to not having enough Marijuana required for the research.

    On May 9, after a three-week delay, NIDA informed us that they will have to grow the marijuana we need for our protocol and that it will not be available until sometime in the fall of 2014, on an unknown date and at an unknown price. NIDA is required under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to provide a “continuous and uninterrupted supply” of marijuana for research, which they have now admitted to failing to provide. NIDA is currently the only source of marijuana legal for use in federally regulated research.
    To summarize, the reason you are finding no evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment for cancer is because the research hasn't been done yet.   The DEA and NIDA  have approved very few, if any, clinical trials in the last 20 years.    And they are still being obstructive now that they finally have given permission for one study.
  •  Good diary with a couple of puzzling details. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, LakeSuperior, kurt

    What's with the reference to the conditions under which you "delete" comments?  I suspect that reference snuck in because you also published this on a blog somewhere.  Most people who do that stick in a line at the top that says "Cross-posted at [link]."

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:32:59 PM PDT

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      I suspect he/she's been hr'd and thought their comment was deleted.

      Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

      by high uintas on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:57:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure how you got that out of this (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades, Susan from 29
        I have a policy of open commenting and dissent to my articles. I only delete spam, racism, and just random nonsense.
        This diary is in fact cross-posted elsewhere (according to another commenter above) and so I'm pretty sure that's the blog the author was talking bout deleting comments on.

        For your won theory it would be easy enough for you to find hr'd comments of the author.  But I highly doubt that was what was meant

        "I'm not a number" --84,414

        by BentLiberal on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:08:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right BL (0+ / 0-)

          I had him confused with another poster. Mea Culpa

          Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

          by high uintas on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 08:45:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Patent and cancer.gov (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maregug, GAS

    Why did you mention a patent application but fail to mention the US patent #6630507 that has been granted to the feds and subsequently awarded to a company called Kannalife?

    Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases
    You might find this Cancer.gov page interesting.
    http://www.cancer.gov/...
    Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells
  •  Circular self-referential links are not... (8+ / 0-)

    ...a scientific method as everyone understands so I suspect once you exhaust those not inclined to follow your links but impressed with the simple number of them then you will not get much more mileage from this road worn diary.

  •  "the known risks of smoking the drug." (10+ / 0-)

    This is from your link about marijuana being less carcinogenic than tobacco:

    the carcinogenic potential of smoke is increased by tobacco, whereas it is uniquely reduced by the specific immune regulatory activity of cannabinoids in cannabis smoke.
    Your link about marijuana having more carcinogens than tobacco is riddled with inaccuracies. Try this more nuanced one instead from UCLA's Tashkin:
    In summary, the accumulated weight of evidence implies far lower risks for pulmonary complications of even regular heavy use of marijuana compared with the grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.
  •  "Curing cancer" is a strawman itself. (16+ / 0-)

    First off - I am not a marijuana smoker.

    As you correctly point out, cancer is a collection of diseases, and within each disease lives a plethora of variants which appear to be dependent upon the genotype of the cancer and the individual. I take any "cures cancer" claim with a healthy skepticism.

    And so that section was, for me, TLDNR. No new news.

    However, the effects on many other diseases have not been tested, or have not been tested adequately. Why? Because marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance.

    The collection of drugs in marijuana have some very interesting interactions with neuroreceptors leading to dopamine release and resulting physiological and mood changes. For some individuals, this could be better than the current crop of SSRI's.

    Personally, I suffer from periodic limb movement, which keeps me from sleeping. I've been prescribed a whole pharmacopoeia of drugs for this, most of which have been discontinued due to really bad side effects. There is some evidence that the components of cannabis might be useful in this regard. Again - further study is warranted, and the current legal situation with marijuana means that little to no research will be done.

    And in any case - I believe that the negative health effects of marijuana (which you cite) are no worse than those of other legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco.

    Certainly the negative effects of cannabis are insufficient to warrant its current listing as a Schedule I controlled substance.

    One more little quibble - as a scientist, I'm all for more science here at DKos. But you're wielding a very heavy hammer. Perhaps a gentler approach would be more constructive.

    Screw John Galt. Who's John Doe?

    by Mike Kahlow on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:49:15 PM PDT

  •  This diary is definitely well worth reading... (18+ / 0-)

    ...because it calls for rigorous examination of the claims, something we should do for everything, not just medical and scientific claims and we should do so while working hard to control our confirmation bias. And you help boost consideration of your piece when you make clear you're not a foe of legalization for recreational use like so many of those who argue that marijuana is harmful, a "gateway" drug, etc.

    So I am recommending and tipping. But...

    You hurt case when you make statements like this:

    On the internet, you will find numerous memes, blog posts, and even mainstream articles that are claiming that smoking pot, eating pot, rubbing hemp oil (which is manufactured from the seeds of Cannabis plants that don't contain much THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the active hallucinogenic agent of cannabis), or doing something with all or a part of a cannabis plant will cure or prevent some disease, mostly, but not exclusively, cancers.
    Where in the literature does anyone claim that it's THC that prevents or cures cancer? CBD (Cannabidiol) is what's at issue. It's one of 60+ active cannabinoids in marijuana. Perhaps (I'll go further and say very probably), it neither prevents or heals, but I want to see additional studies since studies have been hampered by U.S. authorities' hostility toward marijuana.

    I make no scientifically backed medical claims for marijuana particularly related to cancer or anything else. But I have heard firsthand plenty of anecdotes from users (many of whom never previously used it for recreation or anything else, many of whom were skeptics at the beginning). People who couldn't sleep who suddenly could. People with chronic pain who suddenly had it vanish. All of them influenced by placebo effect? Maybe.

    What's clear (from your analysis and others') is that we need more scientifically rigorous studies on the subject.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 04:51:44 PM PDT

  •  HOW DARE YOU say (10+ / 0-)

    that kale tastes awful.  It is a super food, and tastes super duper good!

    Also, I experience menopausal symptoms and the body aches and pains of a middle aged person with a life long desk job who just doesn't exercise as much as she should, and marijuana (smoked or my favorite, ingested in the form of chocolate bars) and it helps IMMENSELY.  It seems to regulate my internal thermostat and dissipate the hot flashes, it eases some aches and pains, it relaxes and eases anxiety as well.

    Now that does not speak to curing cancer and i haven't done much research on that, but it really does make a nauseous person feel much better and stimulates appetite.  Some of us call this getting the munchies.

  •  For those who are interested (0+ / 0-)

    Dr. Raphael Meshulum

    and a Global TV interview

  •  No (7+ / 0-)
    So before I head down the the road of whether THC or cannabis has any effect on any particular disease, I'm not going to play the argument from ignorance. If there isn't any evidence that marijuana or THC doesn't cure a particular condition, then that means there's no evidence.
    It's all so conveniently circular. You require a high level of clinical evidence, but then the government doesn't allow a high level of clinical trials. So guaranteed your position will always be, "these claims for medical marijuana are without evidence".

    Give the med pot people free reign to conduct trials on it as with any other substance and then wait a decade or two for the science to develop, and then come back and talk to us. Hopefully by then it will be a moot point because it will be as legal kale!

  •  You sound like someone (4+ / 0-)

    that has never been sick. You totally discount the idea that being mellow and a bit hungry with a tenancy for going to sleep. For the sick the inability to relax, eat and sleep a little will absolutely stop you from getting better regardless of any other treatments.

  •   someone was blind for a year due to macula (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan from 29, 207wickedgood

    Edemia. 20/250 20/260 they now have 20/50 20/60.  They only have one thing to thank. The Dr and decided to test it twice and after stopping for 3 months  the patient stated having the swelling again.  So  went back each time and  cleared it right back up. They have not had a shot in over 5 years. It used to be once a month in both eyes 340 bucks per eye.

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:28:06 PM PDT

  •  I respect your call for rigorous controlled, peer (5+ / 0-)

    reviewed studies. But the absence of them does not mean that there is no evidence, it simply means there is no funding for the studies. The US Government has too many contractors, too heavily invested in our drug war to find any benefit in marijuana. And the other major financier of drug studies would be the pharmaceutical industry. Which stands to lose billions should marijuana prove to be as effective as Tylenol or Zoloft, or Paxil. I can hardly see them sponsoring a study unless, like Monsanto, they could patent the plant.

    BTW, there is a new spray that they say is a very effective female aphrodisiac. And no, I haven't tried it but Alternet had an article about it here.

    •  and your last statement illustrates 3 problems... (4+ / 0-)

      with our current method of scientific research and drug approval:

      1) Since big Pharma can't make any money off of naturally occurring substances, they're not going to be interested in providing funding. Unless they can make a derivative that they can patent.

      2) Since THC is highly regulated, it's hard for anyone to get approval for research.

      3) Sexuality!? (no no no no no no no no no - especially female sexuality) You won't get funding from the government for research into efficacy.

      The result? It might work, but it might not. No one is going to check. And so anyone can write about how there "is no scientific evidence". Science Fails (and as a scientist it pains me to say that).

      Screw John Galt. Who's John Doe?

      by Mike Kahlow on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 08:12:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Probably not so much an aphrodisiac as a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Susan from 29

      pleasure enhancing product. And it works for both men and women. My FWB and I have been enjoying cannabis enhanced sex for years now. We use the canola oil infusion that I make as a lube. It definitely makes all sexual sensations a bit more pleasurable, helps delay orgasm for men, and helps women experience more long-lasting and intense orgasms. I HIGHLY recommend it. But not at the exorbitant price they are quoting. Eating a cannabis cookie an hour or so before sex also contributes to the experience. But you need to know your cookies, too much is no fun, too little is ineffective. You want enough to make you a little dreamy without making you ready to fall asleep.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 10:08:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dispassionate medical argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demeter Rising

    I imagine that much of what you say in your dispassionate medical argument, is most likely true.  But there is an even greater body of evidence strongly suggesting that medical marijuana is necessary, despite it's limited value as any kind of cure. It is those crucial areas which are not scientifically quantifiable, which you conveniently ignore. For one; there are people suffering, not only from disease, but even from the hard physical and mental grind of life. That you scorn the folks who find recreational escape from it, suggests that you either have not experienced debilitating harshness in your life, or that you have been able to muster your mind and will to conquer it.  If you experienced it and conquered its effects, I extend my personal congratulations.  But to assume that everyone is built like you; able to take pain and misery and shunt it away through sheer willpower, is incredibly arrogant. The flip side of the coin is that you have never experienced debilitating harshness in life, in which case, you do not have the standing to argue neither for nor against this subject.
        If it eases suffering during disease progression, if it brings peace to a mind that is in turmoil and threatening to go off the deep end, if it resets the human mind after being body slammed by life,  if it helps them cope when they can no longer deal effectively with the barrage that life can throw at you; that is of immense value and meaning to the victims.
        But!  You are right that no one would find it acceptable if their surgeon or airline pilot was a user.  Furthermore, employers should have the right to discriminate by not hiring users, even if they were prescribed the drug.  Which is why I advocate decriminalization, not total legalization.  The only thing that should be legalized, is the prescription and use of medical marijuana which should be further regulated by requiring users to be counseled on the legal and health ramifications if they were to choose to use it.  Possession without a prescription should be a misdemeanor,  and possession with a prescription should be legal. But in both cases, it should also be reportable to your employer.

  •  Neuropathy and the extreme pain of muscle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demeter Rising, TakeSake

    spasms related to it may be helped by marijuana.

    Based on evidence from trials in MS. Since the same mechanism (degradation of myelin) may be responsible for the extreme pain sometimes resulting from diabetic peripheral neuropathy I would posit marijuana might be helpful in lieu of the very sedating agents (tramadol, lyrica) currently prescribed to try to help alleviate this pain.  Especially since FDA has restricted the use of quinine which actually could reduce these muscle spasms.  Marijuana also drops blood sugar levels (hence "the munchies") so may be useful to diabetics for that reason.

    I'm not talking about minor pain, but the kind that makes one wake up from a sound sleep screaming.

    I don't at this point have a lot of confidence in the trials of marijuana as an anticancer agent.  However, as something that may increase appetite in people on chemotherapy, or reduce muscle spasm in people with MS neuropathy or even potentially post stroke I would not be inclined to casually dismiss the potential medical applications.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:01:32 PM PDT

    •  I know well from personal experience that it (0+ / 0-)

      works as a penetrating topical pain-killer. I use an infusion of cannabis in canola oil and apply it to sore muscles and joints. It relieves pain,even down in the muscles within just a few minutes. I've also had friends with arthritis try it for their joint pain. They have told me that it works almost immediately and is the only thing they've ever tried that actually made the pain go away instead of just dulling it.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 09:53:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hit and run diarist. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vwrtb1177

    skepticalraptor posted this TLDR piece of glorified spam with all sorts of rules that don't exist, then he disappeared for the discussion. I guess he's not required to stick around for admonishment, but I hope he didn't get any ad revenue from his insincere spam diary.

  •  Smoking pot alleviates pain. (0+ / 0-)

    Of that there is no question.  And, if that's all the "medicinal use" we ever get out of it...  what's to hate?

    Follow Connect! Unite! Act! MeetUp events! For live podcasting of your Event contact winkk to schedule.

    by winkk on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 06:12:15 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for creating.... (0+ / 0-)

    a well done article that I have thought about doing but haven't yet because it is too much like work!

    I will accept that cannabis use for many is good for pain relief and for other palliative effects. I'm not convinced that smoking is the best way to ingest it, however. The whole issue is that much more research needs to be done. I'm sure that cannabis drugs will have their place. Proven ones need to be available in pharmacies and covered by health insurance. Unproven ones, if they at least shown to cause no harm and are properly produced, can be made available in supplement stores along with all of the other wonder chemicals of dubious claims.

    I'll agree that the catch-22 issue of research not being done because of government prohibitions and delays needs to be overcome. However, I won't agree that the absence of research doesn't mean that it must be a wonder drug because there isn't anything to say that it doesn't cure herpes and toenail fungus.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site