Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jan 2017
Source: Prince George Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Prince George Citizen
Author: Gordon Clark
Page: 6


Here we go again. Another week, another massive report by top doctors and
scientists finding very limited medicinal value to marijuana. In an age
when liberal politicians such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson claim to be implementing "evidence-based"
public policy, I find it odd that they have such a blind spot when it
comes to pot.

A new report by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and
Medicine - The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current
State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research - that reviewed the
results of 10,700 studies on the medicinal qualities of marijuana
concluded that there is "conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis
or cannabinoids are effective" in treating only three conditions: chronic
pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and
patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms (although there
was "limited" evidence of "clinician-measured" spasticity relief).

The report, drafted by a committee headed by Harvard medical school
professor Dr. Marie McCormick, reached similar conclusions to a review of
the research on medical marijuana published in June by the Journal of the
American Medical Association.

It found "moderate-quality" evidence that pot controls pain and MS

An editorial accompanying the JAMA research argued that the political
agenda to legitimize "medical" marijuana was pushing ahead without
adequate research into whether marijuana was effective or safe.

The National Academies report also listed the significant harms of
marijuana, including: * "Substantial evidence" that smoking pot causes
"worse respiratory symptoms and more frequent bronchitis episodes." *
Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. * Moderate evidence of increased
risk of overdose injuries, including respiratory distress among children.
* Substantial evidence that pot use by pregnant women results in newborns
with lower birth weights. * Moderate evidence it causes impairment of "the
cognitive domains of learning, memory and attention" with acute use. *
Substantial evidence linking cannabis use with the "development of
schizophrenia or other psychoses." * Substantial evidence linking
increases in cannabis use frequency with "progression to problem cannabis

With all that, how can any responsible public official rush into loosening
controls on marijuana without thoroughly considering the negative impacts
on people and society, especially when the loudest chorus for the policy
change is coming from the mostly illegal marijuana industry that stands to
massively profit? Why is anyone listening to them and their claims?

The new study, for example, found "limited evidence" that cannabis is
effective at treating weight loss in HIV/AIDS patients, anxiety,
post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, glaucoma, depression, cancer,
anorexia, irritable bowel syndrome, epilepsy... and so on.

For the most part, the medical marijuana industry is a fraud. It's making
false claims to sell pot because people like to get high.

I just wish everyone would own up to that fact. And I say that as someone
who has long supported decriminalization because with so many people using
marijuana it makes no sense saddling people with criminal records over
relatively innocuous behaviour. But that's a far cry from legalizing the
drug, or celebrating its use as so many people now do.

Look at Colorado. In almost any way it can be measured, increased
marijuana use is causing a host of societal problems, including higher
rates of marijuana-impaired driving, pot use by teenagers and young
adults, school dropout rates, marijuana-related hospital visits, and
accidental exposure of the drug to children.

I'm not interested in launching a new form of reefer madness, but doesn't
government have a responsibility to discourage behaviour that isn't good
for people?

Surely, Canada or Vancouver are not improved - and people are not leading
as productive and significant lives as possible - with increased drug use.

It is hard for me and others to reconcile the stern warnings on Health
Canada's website about the dangers of pot use, especially by young people,
with a decriminalization policy that everyone knows will expand its use.

There was some good news in the new U.S. study. Marijuana use is,
according to the best current evidence, not linked to lung, head or neck
cancers, the triggering of heart attacks, strokes or pregnancy
complications for mothers, to list a few.

The authors also listed a multitude of conditions and outcomes for which
the current research does not provide answers one way or the other,
leading them to call on the U.S. federal government to make changes to
their drug laws so that more research on marijuana and its effects can be

That, at least, is something those for and against marijuana can likely
agree upon.
- ---
MAP posted-by: