good weed?

Medical marijuana (link to Wikipedia) is such a complicated and huge topic, it's difficult to know where to begin. For starters: marijuana refers to any of the several Cannabis species, and some of their hybrids.

The marijuana plant contains many chemicals which are possibly psychoactive. Scientific knowledge of many of these cannabinoids is somewhat lacking, however. The principle active chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, usually called THC. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has also been shown to play a role in the "high" associated with cannabis use.

In the United States, synthetic THC is available as the prescription drug Marinol. This is generally prescribed to quell severe nausea in cancer patients on chemotherapy, and to treat the "wasting syndrome" associated with AIDS.
One might wonder why, if we have Marinol, anyone would fight for the right to use marijuana. But Marinol contains only one of the hundreds of chemicals found in marijuana - A point often raised by supporters of medical marijuana. Many argue that THC alone is not as effective as the whole plant. Unfortunately, federal policies in the U.S. make it difficult to research the efficacy of marijuana versus THC alone.

A new drug, Sativex, an extract of Cannabis sativa, was recently approved in Canada for treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis-- an approval that has provoked intense reactions on both sides of the medical marijuana debate.
For years, many MS sufferers have resorted to smoking marijuana when prescription medicines are inadequate. The introduction of Sativex provides a legal, regulated alternative to the harsh smoke.

I decided to write this entry after hearing a very short segment of a popular Conservative radio show yesterday... Michael Savage was, in his usual venomous tone, airing his ignorance. He claimed, among other things, that there are no legitimate uses for marijuana. He also said that those who fight for the right to use marijuana for medical purposes are really just looking to get high.

He was so hate-filled and malicious that I couldn't stand to listen to his vitriol for long. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there are people out there who truly can benefit from the use of marijuana. To attack them and undermine their cause is despicable.

Was Peter McWilliams "only" looking to get high? This courageous, intelligent man stood up for a cause, and was mowed down by a federal judge. Mr. McWilliams had AIDS and cancer... For some time, he was unable to keep down his medications due to extreme nausea. Marinol and other anti-emetics didn't do the trick. Mr. McWilliams lived in California, where state law (Prop. 215) permits the use of medical marijuana. So he tried it, and it worked. He was able to keep down his AIDS medications, and his viral load plummeted. He was able to live a much more normal life, until the feds got involved. The charges brought against McWilliams were a farce, and many believe his prosecution was politically motivated. He was forced to plead guilty to the charges in order to avoid a mandatory sentence of 10 years' jail time. His mother and sister put up their homes as bond for him-- While out on parole, he was forced to submit to a urine test every couple of days. If he were to test positive for marijuana, his mother and sister would lose their homes.

Peter McWilliams died June 14, 2000. He was found at home in an upstairs bathroom, having choked to death on his own vomit. He was 50 years old. His crime, apparently, was that of fighting to stay alive.

This entry is only the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately. There is so much more to the issue than what I've presented here. I urge you, if you haven't already, to educate yourself on this. Sorry if the entry is a bit choppy/ not cohesive.. My brain doesn't always work quite the way I'd like it to. :)


Anonymous Eliza said...

Marinol also uses synthentic THC and not the stuff that's actually from the plant. I'm not sure how/if this affects its efficacy, but this is sure to be a huge issue in for [non-synthetic] Sativex to overcome in FDA approval and why Marinol's having been approved doesn't necessarily pave the way for Sativex.

7:57 PM  
Blogger bronwyn said...

Yes, I did mention that Marinol is synthetic. Thanks for reinforcing that point! :)
This whole issue of FDA approval really sucks... So much of what goes on is motivated by politics.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Dreaming again said...

I have mixed feelings on this issue ... having 2 kids with TS ...I've watched this debate, and the research carefully.

I have lots of problems with smoking it.

But we HAVE to research it .. HAVE TO .. we HAVE to find a way to get the medical benifit of the drug without causing another obvious problem (smoking). I don't mean side effects, I mean the smoke into the lungs issue. The side effects of what it can do to the brain ..well, look at all the problems other drugs cause, yes, that will have to be addressed too ...

It HAS to be researched, thouroughly ..and it has to be de- politicized.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of these conservative pundits (ahe, limbaugh) who proselytize with such vehemence are the same ones gobbling down my percocet prescriptions with glee. great post.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was supposed to be 'ahem' or some other cough-equivalent, oops.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Dreaming again said...

choking on your own cough Dr. C?


5:49 PM  
Blogger Peter's Page said...

Thank you for remembering Peter McWilliams. In a couple of videos (including ones posted to my tribute site for Peter) Peter mentions that he was in extreme pain and could not keep his meds down-and medical marijuana really was the only saving grace that could enable him to live.

Earlier, he had also suffered major depression and the books
"How to Heal Depression" and "Hypericum for Depression" were born. Another natural herb
that helps healing-St. John's Wort.

Thank you for remembering this great guy and I'd love to re-post this and link you to Peter's Page.
Please email me about this.

6:21 PM  
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8:48 AM  

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