Pubdate: Fri, 20 Sep 2002
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Mark Engel
Cited: GW Pharmaceuticals


I must correct some errors in Bob Messing's recent letter regarding
medical marijuana.

True, THC, one of the active substances in marijuana, is available in
pill form by prescription, trade-name Marinol. For purely political
reasons, this drug was "fast-tracked" by the FDA, without the usual
clinical trials, and it's synthesized, not extracted from marijuana,
making it unconscionably expensive, around $8 per dose.

Marinol is not a good formulation. As anyone who's eaten a brownie
knows, marijuana taken orally can take an hour to "come on," whereas
smoked marijuana works instantly. Patients with nausea may not be able
to keep the pill down; patients with digestive difficulties may not be
able to absorb it.

Moreover, THC isn't the only active ingredient, just the most
psychoactive. CBD may be the anti-spasmodic agent, and the synergistic
effects of many other components are being studied. See the Web site
of GW Pharmaceuticals (UK) for details. They're developing delivery
systems that don't involve smoking.

Meanwhile, though smoking may not seem scientific or healthy, a UCLA
study found that smoking marijuana causes no impairment of lung
function, and no case of lung cancer has ever been documented in a
marijuana (but not tobacco) smoker.

Marijuana may cause "loss of short-term memory and motor skills" in
some people. I smoked before and during the break in my GRE exams and
got 800/720/800 out of a possible 800/800/800. I regularly win online
trivia contests (instant recall, fast typing) against international
competition while smoking. People who don't like what marijuana does
for them shouldn't (and don't) smoke it.

Marijuana is "fairly harmless" and should be decriminalized. It is
also real medicine. The voters of California were right and the DEA
should be ashamed.

Mark Engel

Ben Lomond
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