Pubdate: Thu, 03 Nov 2011
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2011 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Re: Tories put MDs on the hook for pot (Oct. 30). As a therapeutic 
herb, or natural health product, cannabis cannot be subjected to the 
sort of clinical trials applied to pharmaceuticals.

More important, herbs cannot be patented, so there is no incentive 
for private pharmaceutical companies to shepherd them through the 
expensive drug-approval process.

Cannabis, however, already surpasses the accepted standards for 
natural health products. According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, 
the benefit-risk profile of cannabis is well within that of many 
commonly used pharmaceutical drugs. A far greater number of studies 
have already demonstrated the health benefits and safety of cannabis 
than exist for such medical standbys as Aspirin, penicillin and codeine.

Indeed, these latter drugs (and many more) were approved for sale 
without any controlled clinical trials whatsoever. Instead, they were 
"grandfathered" into the approved formulary back in the 1930s by 
virtue of longtime experience showing them to be safe (the so-called 
generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, process).

As a similarly long-used medicine (much longer if we count more than 
10,000 years of experience in Asia and India), cannabis should also 
have received grandfathered status but, for purely political reasons, 
it did not.

Given the widespread use of cannabis, surely doctors should already 
be familiar with the effects, contraindications and drug 
interactions. At a minimum, doctors surely could attest to the fact 
that their patients would benefit from not fearing arrest or being 

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