PHARMA/POLICY: Another Canadian import to cause trouble?

As you know I (along with a couple of other medical bloggers) have long been opposed to the War on drugs and the ridiculous ban on marijuana.  Marijuana has obvious medical uses, particularly as an anti-nausea and anti-neuralgia agent. Many other wonders are claimed for it as an anti-cancer agent, etc.  These may or may not be true but as clinical trials are not allowed we can’t tell for sure, and it doesn’t seem any less effective than many of the equally ineffective chemo regimens that are used in oncology–if a patient tells you that he’s alive because of marijuana, who are we to take it away from them? I of course think that marijuana should be legal, fully regulated (and taxed) like any other herbal supplement or alcohol. 

However because of its obsession with promoting arrests, prisons and the black market, the US government has been blind to all the news on medical marijuana as it’s just too inconvenient to note that a supposedly evil drug with no medical value is actually therapeutically useful. Well now the Canadians have gone further than allowing patients to use their own marijuana, they’ve actually approved a medicine that is liquid marijuana. I’ll let the MPP take it from here, but suffice to say if the drug warriors cared a fig for reason, they’d be tying themselves in logical knots over this one.

The Canadian government has just delivered a body blow to the U.S. government’s irrational prohibition against the medical use of marijuana. Today, Canada approved the prescription sale of a natural marijuana extract — for all practical purposes, liquid marijuana — to treat pain and other symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis.

In short, the Canadian government has just certified that virtually everything our own government has been telling us about marijuana is wrong. Sativex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain, is literally liquid marijuana. It is nothing like Marinol, the synthetic THC pill old in the U.S. and sometimes falsely touted as an adequate substitute for marijuana. Rather, Sativex is a whole-plant extract, containing the wide variety of naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids that are unique to marijuana. It also contains trace elements of other compounds in the plant, which scientists believecontribute to its therapeutic value.

Sativex is to marijuana as a cup of coffee is to coffee beans. If Sativex is safe and effective, marijuana is safe and effective. And Sativex is safe and effective. Studies have shown significant effect against pain and other symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis and other debilitating conditions, and over 600 patient-years of research have established a remarkable record of safety.

Sativex should certainly be approved in the U.S., but the process may take years — if it is allowed to happen at all, given our federal government’s reflexive hostility to the medical use of marijuana. And more importantly, now that we know beyond doubt that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine, how long will our government continue to arrest patients who use it?

Visit http://www.mpp.org/sativex.html to learn more about the issues associated with Sativex. Please visit http://www.mpp.org/donate2088 to give MPP the money we need to continue lobbying to end our government’s war on medical marijuana users.

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7 replies »

  1. As I understand it, in order for THC to have any psychoactive effect, it must first be decarboxylated…which means it must be heated in order to release the mind-altering properties.

  2. As a strong supporter of the absolute enforcement of our laws against any use of pot, I find your post bemusing. It appears from the comments by Carl Barron and somtan that you are comparing apples an oranges.
    That is, you’re saying that because Canada approves a non recreational drug, recreational drugs should be approved. Is that logical, or just propaganda for your cause?
    I’m sure you’re aware of the research that shows the terribly harmful consequences of using pot. I have a friend who’s used it some 30 years, and as the medical research confirms, he’s so arthritic that he can hardly move and has been since his late 40s. Also, you’ve probably seen the research that found that smokers are depressed, anxious folks, and that’s why they don’t quit. Are pot smokers similarly aflicted?
    I can’t be for the legalization of pot for recreational use, and I’ve seen nothing that proves it is useful as a pain killer or other medicine, but, then, I’m not obsessed with the subject nor a clinician. Does that make my conclusions any less valid than yours, Matthew?

  3. Out of curiosity, what would stop people from not using the medication as directed?

  4. Source: The Globe and Mail (http://www.cannabis.net/articles/sativex.html)
    Date: 12 May 2004
    Sativex is a medicinal mouth spray developed from the major components of marijuana, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
    It would be the first prescription drug that uses real marijuana extracts and not a synthesized form, according to its proponents.
    However, GW executive chairman Geoffrey Guy has said the cannabis-derived spray will not get patients high since it is sprayed under the tongue, rather than smoked or swallowed. “They see the benefit without getting stoned.”
    I’m curious. Will Sativex give people the munchies?

  5. From the AGPCUK (which may or may not be related to the organizations AGFCUK or AGPUKE) comes a very helpful comment. Pray tell Carl, why does it matter exactly how much THC is in Sativex or Marinol or Marijuana for that matter. There’s plenty of mood and mind altering chemicals in many legal drugs (Prozac, Oxycontin, etc). We don’t cast their medical value aside for no rational reason, but then again we don’t arrest 750,000 people a year for using them either.

  6. Carl Barron seems to be the one confused. How can Sativex both contain THC anmd simaltaneously have the THC removed?
    Obviously, as THC is the most psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, its presence in Sativex will get you “high” if you consume enough.

  7. From your out spoken comments, you obviously know nothing as to the content of Sativex. Sativex is a cannabis extract containing tetranabinex (THC) and nabidiolex (cannabidiol – CBD) as its principal component. It does not contain the active substance found in recreational cannabis, and so patients taking Sativex will not become intoxicated. Sativex is administered by means of a spray into the mouth rather than smoked. The THC content has been extracted, and only the pain killing inhibitors remain.
    Carl Barron
    Chairman of agpcuk
    Action Group for the Protection of Communities UK