Editorials

Christians, Conservatives and Cannabis

Myth #4: Marijuana Has No Proven Medical Benefits

Doing a Google search easily disproves this claim. Today there exists absolutely overwhelming evidence; both anecdotal and scientific, that marijuana is useful in treating a wide variety of diseases and for chronic pain relief.

For example:

You can easily find thousands more articles on this subject if you want to know more, and I sincerely hope you do.

Many today consider cannabis to be a “medical miracle” because of the way it works in the human body. How can one plant possibly be this useful in the treatment of so many diseases?

RaphaelMechoulamThis is explained by the discovery of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) by Israel’s Dr. Raphael Mechoulem (the father of marijuana research), nearly 30 years ago. Some hail this discovery of the ECS as the most significant medical finding since the discovery of antibiotics or the development of modern surgical techniques. Yet, no practicing doctor today learned about this in medical school, because it is such a new field of study and is not yet covered. Medical practitioners can only learn about it through self-study and continuing education courses.

Researchers around the world are now diligently working to learn more about how this system works and its role in healing the human body from disease. Here is an excellent video where Mary Lynn Mathre, an RN and experienced cannabis clinician, explains what we know about how our endocannabinoid system functions.

receptors
Endogenous Cannabinoid Receptors

Simply stated, our bodies naturally produce chemical compounds called endogenous cannabinoids (named after the cannabis plant that led to it’s discovery). These cannabinoids and their special receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. In each region, the ECS performs different tasks, but the end result is always to achieve homeostasis, which is the return of stability in the face of disruptions within the system.

The active chemical elements in cannabis are called “phytocannabinoids”, which also bind to our cannabinoid receptors to produce this same moderating effect in our body systems. This is why cannabis is proving to be uniquely effective in the treatment so many diseases. The discovery of the ECS makes this plant truly appear to be a gift of healing from God to mankind.

Remarkably, all this happens without affecting the brain stem, making cannabis a safe and effective form of treatment, unlike opioids and other alkaloids, which are powerful and useful compounds, but can be harmful or even fatal in large doses because they work within the central nervous system.

NIH_logoOne argument that the DEA and many prohibitionists continue to present is that there is a lack of “approved scientific studies”. The reason there are so few “approved” studies is due to the fact that any approved study requires no less than 3 government agencies to approve it. The only legal source for marijuana for a federally approved study is the federal government, and getting official government marijuana for research purposes has been almost functionally impossible. These hurdles are simply too much for most researchers to overcome, thus studies that the federal government finds acceptable are rare by design.

However, as “unofficial” research results continue to confirm the medicinal benefits of cannabis and public pressure for more studies increases, things are actually shifting in Washington. This year, DEA is seeking to increase its marijuana production quota by nearly three-fold. The agency says that the increased production is necessary because “research and product development involving cannabidiol (CBD) is increasing beyond that previously anticipated.” The agency further acknowledges having received increased requests from NIDA “to provide for ongoing and anticipated research efforts involving marijuana.”

If these studies are allowed to continue (and not halted by other federal gatekeepers), it is only a matter of time before this foolish argument that marijuana has “no medical benefit” is seen for the preposterous lie that it is.

As mentioned above, the federal government has owned a patent on cannabinoids as medicine since 1999 (Patent #US6630507 B1). Clearly this is evidence of proven medical benefit, given that they have held this patent for the past 16 years. This is sheer hypocrisy and is evil in light of their intentional efforts to block legitimate research on the medical benefits of cannabis.

marinolThere are a few newly developed cannabis-based prescription drugs that are proving to be effective in the treatment of disease. Marinol (or Dronabinol) is a synthetic version of THC, the main psychoactive agent in cannabis. (Curiously, this drug enjoys a Schedule 3 status, while the natural plant source remains Schedule 1.)

Sativex, developed by GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK, is producing a 1:1 THC-CBD whole plant extract that enjoys legal status in many European countries, but is currently only available in the US for FDA-approved clinical trials.

Truth: Cannabis has been used as medicine for at least 5000 years. It continues to be shown to be an effective medical treatment for a large and growing number of diseases both in scientific studies and in anecdotal testimonies from people who have or are using it in treatment. To claim it has no accepted medical benefits is a ridiculous, easily disproven falsehood.  Public health policy should be driven by sound science and not political ideologies.

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