High Times for Medical Marijuana

| September-October 2010

  • Medical Marijuana

  • Medical Marijuana

Even the most gung-ho medical marijuana advocates have to wince when they see a marijuana dispensary ad with a tie-dye background or hear about doctors writing pot prescriptions for a sore toe based a two-minute consultation. Such scenarios fuel the perception that medical marijuana research must simply be a front group for stoners. But the levelheaded folks at Science News (June 19, 2010) remind us why lots of smart people in lab coats are advocating the use of medicinal marijuana. 


The article “Not Just a High” by Nathan Seppa explores “the long march to credibility for cannabis research,” which, he soberly explains, “has been built on molecular biology.” Seppa details how THC mimics the effects of compounds in our bodies, and how both versions—cannabinoids from the plant and endocannabinoids from our bodies—bind to receptor proteins dubbed CB1 and CB2. And that’s where the magic begins. 


“When a person consumes cannabis, a flood of THC molecules bind to thousands of CB1 and CB2 receptors,” writes Seppa. “The binding triggers so many internal changes that, decades after the receptors’ discovery, scientists are still sorting out the effects. From a biological standpoint, smoking pot to get high is like starting up a semitruck just to listen to the radio. There’s a lot more going on.” 


10/19/2010 2:25:07 PM

I don't need 'smart people in lab coats' to tell me that marijuana is not harmful. 'Smart people in lab coats' have helped to make a dying planet Everyone has a vested interest in their jobs and income and 'smart people in lab coats' or 'scientists' as they are also known as, are no different. Marijuana is not harmful unless it is laced with PCP or other modern chemicals used for mind-altering purposes. With regard to lung cancer, I would imagine pot is no more dangerous than cigarette smoking. What marijuana does do, and I know from personal experience in the 60's and 70's, is make you more mellow, sometimes paranoic, but basically puts you in a place where your senses are heightened but your motivation may be lessened. Of course, as any substance, if mixed with other drugs, it may have harmful effects. But governments resist: Imagine a population of potheads, not fighting their wars and slaving to pay their taxes. Not as if the whole population would instantly become potheads. But government has a vested interest in keeping pot illegal. Besides what I previously mentioned, it fills the prison industrial complex with bodies; keeps DEA agents employed; and provides Mexican and South American drug lords with a lucrative income. We would be better off legalizing marijuana nationally for many reasons: taxes; reduce jail population; unprofitable for drug lords. And reduce stress in people who get stress-related illnesses. Sounds simple to me.

10/19/2010 11:24:09 AM

...if the statement..."is true"... Oops.

10/19/2010 11:12:13 AM

What is interesting is that the governments of many states are willing to let cancer patients use Marinol, marijuana's synthetic Franken-daughter which has been approved by the A.M.A., and not allowed the use of it's natural parent. Mostly, Marinol is prescribed to stimulate a patient's appetite while they're undergoing chemotherapy. If the statement about THC's ability to "fool" cancer cells into "committing suicide", then: Why isn't that avenue of research being pursued with every last dollar we can throw at it? I don't have a comment or position about the validity of "people in white coats."

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