Monday, November 14, 2011

“Why is marijuana needed when it is already available in pill form?

     "It", if referring to marijuana, is NOT available in pill form.  "It", if referring to THC - the main psychoactive compound in cannabis - is sold by prescription under the name *Marinol* (Dronabinol).  That may seem like a trivial point but we must keep in mind that THC and marijuana are not the same thing.
     Marijuana contains at least 66 active cannabinoids in addition to THC. Research has shown that these other compounds contribute significantly to marijuana’s therapeutic effects. For example, cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, and anti-inflammatory actions, as well as the ability to protect nerve cells from many kinds of damage. CBD also moderates THC’s effects so patients are less likely to get excessively “high.” Other cannabinoids naturally contained in marijuana have also shown significant
therapeutic promise.
      Also, people who use the pill find that it commonly takes an hour or more to work, while vaporized or smoked marijuana takes effect almost instantaneously. They also find that the dose of THC they have absorbed (in the pill form) is often either too much or too little. Because slow and uneven absorption makes oral dosing of THC so difficult, The Lancet Neurology wrote in May 2003, “Oral administration is probably the least satisfactory route for cannabis.”  In its 2008 position paper on medical marijuana, the American College of Physicians noted, “Oral THC is slow in onset of action but produces more pronounced, and often unfavorable, psychoactive effects than those experienced with smoking.”
     Now let's consider those who use cannabis for its anti-nausea properties.  As Mark Kris, M.D., one member of an expert panel convened by the National Institutes of Health in 1997 to review the scientific data on medical marijuana, explained during the group’s discussion on February 20, 1997: “[T]he last thing that [patients] want is a pill when they are already nauseated or are in the act of throwing up.”
     Thousands of patients risk fines and/or jail time for using cannabis even though they could use a THC pill legally.  They obviously think it is worth the risk to use the whole plant versus merely one chemical from the plant.  It is time to legalize cannabis for medicinal use and stop punishing people for choosing a natural medicine for their ailments.

1 comment:

  1. NOTE: As with many medicines, cannabis has different modes of administration (inhalation, ingestion, sublingual). One should use discretion and consult with an expert when choosing how to use cannabis.