Cannabis as a medicine, as a "drug", drug risks
Affidavit by Dr. Grinspoon (Canada, 1997)
The Hemp Control Law
My name is Bryan Alan Krumm. I am 36 years old. I am a registered nurse at the University of New Mexico Mental Health Center and I am working with New Mexicans for Compassionate Use to end the damage caused to our society by the "war on drugs". I am recognized by the New Mexico court system as an expert on the medical uses of marijuana and the history of medical marijuana. I have been studying the history, effects, and uses of marijuana for over 15 years. I am the chief researcher for the Cannabis Research Library, the largest online collection of cannabis research in the world <www.druglibrary.org/crl/>.
I use marijuana for the treatment of depression and knee pain, and my primary care physician has referred me to the Lynn Pierson Therapeutic Research Program. This program was established under the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act in 1978, and allows the medical use of marijuana in New Mexico. Under this program, research was conducted which proved the safety and efficacy of smoked marijuana for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and for treating the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious actions of the US government led to closure of the program when they refused to approve further research protocols and then cut off our supply of marijuana entirely. Therefore, I have three choices. I can to turn to an unreliable and dangerous "black market". I can risk losing everything I have by cultivating my own medicine. Or, I can go without a needed medication that has unique pharmacological properties, which can not be mimicked by any other known class of drug.
The human body contains a complex system of cannabinoid receptors and produces its own cannabinoids (1,2,3,4), forming an endogenous cannabinoid system that is involved in normal homeostasis of the immune system (5,6,7,8), transmission of pain responses (9,10,11,12,13), perception, and mood (1,8). It has been shown that dysfunction of the endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in certain disease states (14,15,16,17,18). It has also been shown that the use of cannabinoids, such as those found in marijuana, may be effective in treating many of those diseases (15,19,20,21,22,23). It has been shown that different cannabinoids act synergistically to produce greater therapeutic effect than single cannabinoid therapy. When the CB1 receptor agonist, anandamide, is given at the same time as the CB2 receptor agonist, palmitoylethanolamide, they produce an analgesic effect one hundred times greater than either substance when administered by itself (22).
The reason for this synergistic effect is that the human body contains different types of cannabinoid receptors, which react differently to different cannabinoids, and are involved in different aspects of the disease process. For instance, THC is available legally in the United States as a Schedule III drug. THC is a strong CB1 receptor agonist but has minimal activity at the CB2 receptor and may actually act as an antagonist at the CB2 receptor (14). CB2 receptor agonists may prove to be an important class of medications for the treatment of autoimmune diseases (7) and are found in whole marijuana but not in THC capsules.
Cannabinoids have been shown to protect the brain against damage from stroke and trauma (23,24,25) and may protect against age related neurodegenerative disorders such as alzheimers (25). Cannabinoids may also protect against certain types of cancer (26) and have been shown to inhibit proliferation of certain types of tumor cells (27,28,29) and reduce tumor size. (28)
Although the federal government is aware of the therapeutic potential of marijuana, they have routinely suppressed scientific findings. For example, a two-year study of THC was conducted on rats and mice that found THC treated animals had significantly lower rates of many types of cancer. This report was shelved for over two years until a copy was leaked to AIDS Treatment News, stamped on every page "NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION OR ATTRIBUTION" (30). Health and Human Services quickly made a version available to the public after being confronted with the leaked copy (26).
Another example is the 1997 NIH Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana. The transcripts from the workshop show that the panel of experts agreed marijuana has medical value (31). It was even found that "the evidence is perfectly clear that smoking is an outstanding route of administration....it's a very safe drug and therefore it would be perfectly safe medically to let the patient determine their own dose through the smoking route" (ibid p.28-29). The Executive Summary that was issued to the public by NIH was far less enthusiastic than the group of experts. It recommended further research and no smoking (32).
This comes as little surprise. For over a century, every serious scientific inquiry into the effects of marijuana have found it to be an incredibly safe drug that causes little harm to society. It has routinely been found that marijuana prohibition, causes more harm to society than marijuana use (33). The US Government has routinely ignored science, as well as the will of The People, who have passed medical marijuana measures. They continue to persecute all marijuana users, including those who need its important healing properties. After all, marijuana prohibition is founded in racism and intolerance, not science. At a luncheon, October 7'th, in Albuquerque, I had the opportunity to ask General Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, why he still supports persecuting medical marijuana users. I pointed out that the report he commissioned from the Institute of Medicine recommended allowing smoked marijuana for medical use under certain circumstances (34). He responded to a room full of people that the report was available on his web site and that it did not recommend smoked marijuana under any circumstances. Then he called medical marijuana a "crock".
When the Mexican American War was ended by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it did not end the hostile feelings many Americans harbored towards Mexicans. As Mexicans immigrated to the western states and took scarce jobs, it created more tension. These immigrants also brought their cultural and religious traditions, one of which was the use of "marijuana" for medical, religious, and recreational purposes.
Within the traditions of Curanderismo, marijuana is called La Santa Rosa, or the sacred rose. It is used as part of a religious healing ceremony and is considered to be a piece of the heart of God (35,36). When passing its first anti-marijuana laws in 1929, t he Montana Legislature, described such a ceremony as an "imaginary bullfight for the favor of Spanish Rose" and went on to say it deplores these "international complications" (37).
Numerous state legislatures described marijuana as a drug that causes Mexicans to go insane when passing early marijuana l aws. The attitudes and intent of the people of Colorado are illustrated in a letter from Floyd K. Baskette, City Editor of The Alamosa Daily Courier of Alamosa, Colorado, which was read into the record of the hearings on the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act (the first federal law regulating marijuana) by Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. This letter stated in part:
I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents. That's why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions (38).
While this was considered in passing federal anti-marijuana legislation, the opinion of the American Medical Association was ignored. Dr. William C. Woodward was Chief Counsel to the American Medical Association. The AMA was aware of the therapeutic potential of marijuana (or as they knew it, cannabis) and did not want it to be removed from medical use. Dr. Woodward came to testify for the AMA testifying that, "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug." One of the Congressmen said in response, "Doctor, if you can't say something good about what we are trying to do, why don't you go home?" The next Congressman said, "Doctor, if you haven't got something better to say than that, we are sick of hearing you." (39)
Early marijuana laws were intended not only to oppress Mexican immigrants, but to prevent them from the free practice of religion. Today these laws not only prevent millions of Americans from freely practicing religion but millions more suffer from lack of needed medication under these oppressive policies. Millions of others have suffered the severe legal and social consequences associated with being arrested for marijuana use. There is no scientific rationale to justify the criminalization and persecution of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
Prohibition serves to protect the financial interests of industries that would have to compete with marijuana in a free market. It assures the financial success of those responsible for waging this war on the American People. It strips us of our inalienable rights to l ife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I live in fear that a small army of masked gunmen may come bursting through my door at 3 am and shoot me in the back while I'm lying in bed, simply for being a medical marijuana user. In view of the growing number of "deaths by drug warrior" our society suffers from, it's a very real fear for medical marijuana patients living in the United States.
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