Medicinal Cannabis News

Politics v. Science:                                          Understanding Cannabis Therapeutics                       Before it is Censored

Sunday, April 03, 2011 by: Kris Hermes

A milestone quietly occurred last month, and one the federal government would prefer to
ignore. Yet, it could mean a step in the right direction for hundreds of thousands, if not                                                                          
millions, of people who use a centuries-old botanical medicine: cannabis, otherwise know
as marijuana.

According to the Washington Independent, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) changed its
website on March 17th and for the first time listed cannabis as a Complementary Alternative
Medicine (CAM). At that time, the NCI website read:

"The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic
effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative
oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom
management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect."

And just in case the issue of medical efficacy was in question, NCI further stated that:

"Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current
status as an illegal substance."

Besides the obvious "It's about time" retort to the inclusion of cannabis in the CAM listing,
there is definitely more here to this decades-long story of the struggle between politics and
science. If the symptoms of cancer and the side effects from treatment can be ameliorated
or fought-off with medical cannabis, wouldn't that be worth significant research investment?
And, wouldn't the value of that research increase considerably if cannabis therapeutically
benefited people with an array of other medical conditions? What if science showed that
cannabis could halt or diminish the growth of tumors?

Unfortunately, despite promising studies on the effects of cannabis on tumor growth and a
host of other scientific investigations into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis -- mostly
conducted outside of the United States -- we have failed to rise to the occasion. Cannabis
used for research in the U.S. is tightly controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The research that does occur is
narrowly focused by NIDA on the supposed abuse potential of cannabis, bypassing vast
areas of efficacy ripe for investigation.

In 2007, DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mary Ellen Bittner ruled in a case attempting
to expand and diversify the production of research cannabis in the U.S. that such research
was "in the public interest." However, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart ignored her own
ALJ's recommendations and denied the petition that would have broken a 40-year old
monopoly on federal research cannabis production, housed at the University of Mississippi.
The federal monopoly on cannabis cultivation is complemented by a Byzantine approval
process that would have made Franz Kafka proud.

With these tactics, the government has held a pretty tight lid on cannabis research over the
years -- an obstructionist's approach really. But prioritizing politics over science is a tenuous
affair, full of contradictions and hypocrisy.

Take for instance the revisions NCI made to its website not two weeks after it listed cannabis
as a Complementary Alternative Medicine. Just to make sure its readers didn't think it was
endorsing the use of medical cannabis, NCI reminded us that "The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Cannabis as a treatment for any medical
condition..." However, more importantly, NCI removed reference to a "possible direct
antitumor effect." They wouldn't want to give the impression that cannabis should be further
researched, would they?

After feeling some heat from mainstream media outlets, NCI offered an explanation for its
apparent shiftiness around cannabis. Craftily, NCI distanced itself from the Physician Data
Query (PDQ) Editorial Boards, which are responsible for the website content (i.e. the
content on cannabis). "PDQ Editorial Boards review current evidence," and "do not make
recommendations," said NCI in a written response. "Their work is editorially independent
of [NCI]," and "The summary on Cannabis and cannabinoids does not represent a policy
statement of NCI or NIH (National Institutes of Health)."

Okay, this is where it gets interesting.

All of the government double-speak aside, the NCI website still states that cannabis has
been used medicinally for millennia and that oncologists may recommend it for cancer
"symptom management." Pretty bold statements for a website, whether from an editorial
department or not. Now, NCI happens to be one of 11 agencies within the National
Institutes of Health (NIH), which is under the authority of the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS). The problem is that HHS has consistently maintained that
cannabis is a dangerous drug with no medical value. Specifically, HHS has publicly stated
that cannabis "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

The contradictions don't stop there. The same production facility at the University of
Mississippi that selectively disburses research cannabis also mails out literally pounds
of the dried plant each year to the remaining four patients who qualified for the federal
Investigational New Drug program.

The NCI website recognition also comes as a petition to reclassify medical cannabis
has nearly reached its 10th anniversary with no response from the federal government.
Since theCoalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition in 2002, dozens 
more studies have been conducted recognizing the therapeutic effects of cannabis,
eight more states passed medical marijuana laws (bringing the total to 15), and the
country's two largest physician groups -- American Medical Association and American 
College of Physicians -- have both called for a review of marijuana's status as a
Schedule I substance.

Here is the chance for the federal government to come clean, recognize the evidence
and reclassify cannabis so that patients in the U.S. can use it without fear of reprisal
no matter where they live. Yet, based on historical precedent, the cards are stacked
against patients. In 1988, the DEA denied a rescheduling petition despite strong
judicial condemnation of marijuana's Schedule I classification. The DEA's own
Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young ruled on the petition, commenting that,
"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances
known to man." Although final determinations on rescheduling petitions are made by
DEA, the review process relies heavily on recommendations from HHS, the federal
department that oversees NCI.

Another lesser-known contradiction of federal cannabis policies has to do with the
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)pill Marinol. Though ineffective for many medical cannabis
patients, Marinol will go off patent this year and a number of companies are vying
for generic licenses. Companies are asking the government to allow them to grow
cannabis in order to extract the natural form of THC, the primary active chemical in
the plant used in the pill. Marinol is currently made with synthetic THC, but it is cheaper
to extract the chemical from the plant.

The hypocrisy will soon be too much for even the federal government to bear. The
science on cannabis will eventually prevail over politics. It's just not acceptable to
hold millions of sick Americans hostage to such a political double standard. It's time
for the Obama Administration to recognize the science, act with integrity,and reschedule

About the author:
Kris Hermes
Media Specialist
Americans for Safe Access                                                                                                                                                                              Learn more:

Medical Marijuana to be Grown in White House Garden this Year

Medical Marijuana to be Grown in White House Garden this Year
WASHINGTON, D.C. – It is the first week of February, and for Michelle Obama, this means it is time to start planning the White House organic garden. While the garden will again contain a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as a few ornamental flowers, a new addition is sure to create the most controversy ever.
(Read more about the Medical Marijuana debate here.)
The White House organic garden will include several varieties of medical marijuana. The District of Columbia, like many states, has enacted medical marijuana laws allowing the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes. A special gardener with a marijuana growing license has been appointed to oversee this particular plot of the garden.
Tommy Chong, no relation to Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, is a Japanese gardener who is well versed in the various types of cannabis and their medicinal properties. Marijuana will comprise only a small part of the “medicinal herb” portion of the White House garden this year, which will also include various sage plants, lemon verbena, St. Johnswort, Valerian, Feverfew, Eyebright, and others.
A spokesperson for the garden project claims that this will be a first for the White House. “Marijuana has gotten a bad rap for decades,” said Mary Bridges, no relation to Jeff Bridges, notorious for his vocal backing of the legalization of marijuana. “Cultivating medical marijuana in the White House garden will send a clear message to America that this administration will do whatever it takes, including growing Maui Waui, (a particularly potent Hawaiian variety of the plant) to assure better health for our citizens.”
Asked if this means that the medical marijuana grown in the White House garden will be distributed and sold to local dispensaries in the area, Ms. Bridges replied “Oh heavens no. While growing medical marijuana is allowed, we have not yet approved the opening of any dispensaries in our area.
Anticipating the next question, Ms. Bridges explained “No, the Obamas are in excellent health and will not be using the marijuana themselves for any health issues.”

Juicing cannabis miraculously saves lives after physicians declare the battle lost

by Raw Michelle
See all articles by this author

(NaturalNews) At 16, Kristen Peskuski was suffering from joint inflammation and an array of autoimmune conditions which made her organs and other tissues swell, including interstitial cystitis and lupus. She was prescribed over 40 different anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and painkilling medications to combat the symptoms. Still struggling to bring the symptoms under control, Kristen developed steroid toxicity. She was told that the most she could hope for was reduced discomfort, and with luck, she might make it to her 30th birthday. Seeking alternative treatments, she began juicing raw cannabis leaves every day, and within two months, Kristen's back pain had been eliminated, and she had stopped using any other painkillers.

Meet Amber

At two years old, she was diagnosed with terminal brain tumours. Her mother was told that with treatment, Amber had a 10 percentchance of survival. After surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the tumours were still spreading. Her parents were advised to take their child home, make her comfortable, and prepare for the inevitable. A month later, her parents reported a startling change. The tumours had decreased in size and number. The family had been juicing cannabis leaves and feeding their baby a few ounces of the juice each day.

Up in smoke

A typical first reaction is to associate marijuana consumption with its psychoactive effects. However, THC only becomes psychoactive when heated, like when traditionally smoked or cooked. When used raw, cannabis isn't psychoactive. The marijuana's abilities as a painkiller are generally perceived to be the result of its psychoactivity - so much so that the intensity of a plant's psychoactive effects is often used as a gauge of its medical potency. Contrary to intuition, this isn't true! The medical properties of marijuana are actually destroyed when heated or aged, as it becomes psychoactive. Heating converts 600mg of non-psychoactive THC acid into 10mg of psychoactive THC. Here's where the exchange for medical effects occurs. While the 10mg retain some medicinal effects, there is only a fraction of the THC left. In simplified terms, in the raw plant, THC acid isn't psychoactive, but acts as a very powerful medicine, up to 400 times more powerful than when smoked.

Healthful communication

Scientific American, in 2004, published an article called "The Brain's Own Marijuana", in which they asserted that the brain releases chemicals that are structurally and functionally similar to cannabinoids - the reactive property in marijuana. THC is the cannabinoid that people are most familiar with, but this is only one of 80. In normal synaptic nerve function, the signals are uni-directional, and the receiver forwards the signal, but never notifies the sender that the message has been received. Cannabinoids maintain communication with the original transmitter so that it is aware that the message has been received and is being worked on. For example, if a neuron sends a pain signal, normally it would just keep sending the message until the message becomes false. The cannabinoids turn every cell into a manager with increased oversight.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.