Although marijuana laws are changing in most of the world, some countries still consider this medicinal plant evil. For example, in Singapore, anyone caught with 17 ounces of marijuana or more will be treated as a drug trafficker, and drug traffickers are hanged. Granted, that is a lot of marijuana to possess, but the penalty for that crime in the U.S. would be about 5 years in prison and a felony record, which would strip you of your voting rights and make it more difficult for you to find a good job, but at least you would be alive.
Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, wants to make cannabis legal for both medical and recreational use, while in England, where it is still illegal, people are protesting by scattering marijuana seeds in public places because only the plant is illegal, not the seeds. The activist group “Feed The Birds” is distributing cannabis seeds across the country as part of a grassroots campaign to draw attention to the ridiculousness of cannabis prohibition.
In my opinion, medical marijuana should be legal all over the world because it treats many diseases, including certain forms of cancer. No sick person should have to move to purchase medicine that a doctor prescribes. Cigarette smoking should be illegal all over the world, because scientific evidence shows that second hand smoke is dangerous to the health of non-smokers, especially if they are children. Because they damage one’s health so much, U.S. smokers must pay 150% as much to buy health insurance. There is a great deal of evidence that marijuana has therapeutic potential in various types of cancer, including bladder cancer, glioma, leukemia, and breast cancer, and if it were studied further, it might cure other types of cancer as well. So why is tobacco legal but cannabis is not? Politics and money, of course. The best example is what happened in Ohio, a very important swing state, because no Republican has ever been elected President without winning the state of Ohio.
What Went Wrong in Ohio
ResponsibleOhio’s amendment to legalize both medical and recreational cannabis failed to pass, primarily because of its flawed petition process and intent to establish an oligopoly or monopoly. They planned to create an oligopoly where firms collude rather than compete, and this cooperation makes them operate as if they are one company. This changes the market structure from being an oligopoly to a monopoly, because an oligopoly requires some form of competition. If ResponsibleOhio’s proposal had passed, the investors could charge as much for medical marijuana as Big Pharma charges for Gleevec and other cancer drugs. You don’t need a degree in economics to know that corporations are more concerned with maximizing profit than with saving lives.
Under ResponsibleOhio’s proposal, the only businesses which would be allowed to legally produce cannabis would be 10 licensed growing operations owned and operated exclusively by the investors funding the ResponsibleOhio campaign. This is unlike any proposal in any other state, because it tried to legalize both recreational and medicinal cannabis at once. In ResponsibleOhio’s vision of the future, the Marijuana Control Commission would operate in a similar fashion to the Liquor Control Board. Expanding the licenses to include anybody outside of the original investor group was not an option. This closed environment would likely have hindered business growth and discouraged entrance into the field from established medical stakeholders, such as the people who have been pivotal in the development of Colorado and Washington cannabis markets.
Another problem was that the only investor with medical experience was Dr. Suresh Gupta, a local pain management physician and anesthesiologist in Dayton. Gupta has faced five medical malpractice claims, two personal injury lawsuits, and multiple business lawsuits throughout his career. In 2008, he faced charges of gross sexual misconduct from four previous female patients. He has also been disqualified from participating in clinical investigations by the Food and Drug Administration after it was found that he submitted false information, failed to oversee investigations, and failed to protect participants.
As advocate groups began to complain about the limitation of production and distribution to only the wealthy investors of ResponsibleOhio, the Ohio Legislature placed House Joint Resolution 4 on the ballot to “prohibit monopolies, oligopolies and cartels, conferring a commercial interest, right or license to another person or entity that is not available to similarly situated entities from being written into the Ohio Constitution,” which is precisely what ResponsibleOhio wanted to do. If the ResponsibleOhio proposal and Jouse Joint Resolution 4 had both passed, it would have been impossible for ResponsibleOhio to go into effect. On election day, both were voted against.
Marijuana as a Cancer Treatment/Cure
Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Researchers from China’s Guangzhou Medical University believe that cannabis compounds offer future treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer. Researchers targeted affected cells with a synthetic cannabis-like compound and noticed inhibited growth of cancerous cells. Cannabinoid receptor agonists appeared to disrupt cell cycle regulation, leading scientists to believe that cannabinoid therapy could be the next possible treatment frontier for this deadly cancer.”1
This amazing discovery adds to a growing body of research building a compelling case for cannabis as a target for cancer medicine. The U.S. National Cancer Institute acknowledged that marijuana plays a role in killing cancer cells, and the American Cancer Society has requested that it be removed from Schedule I so further research can be done on the plant’s medicinal value. Even the National Institute of Drug Abuse agrees that marijuana kills some cancer cells and reduces the size of others.
As medical cannabis legalization becomes more common in the U.S., patients are faced with the question of how to consume it. In the sixties, most people smoked it but in the last two decades, vaporization has become the best way to consume the cannabis. Many consumers are attracted to vapor because it is one of the healthiest consumption methods. Researchers believe that combusting cannabis creates toxins (including some carcinogens) that disturb the respiratory system. Vaporization is better because it is a smokeless method that heats cannabis at a much lower temperature, releasing cannabinoids and terpenes (the pungent oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, and mint), into a vapor without the harmful byproducts. If you can afford to buy the expensive equipment needed for vaping, that is the best way to use medical marijuana for most people. Smoking marijuana long term can lead to bronchitis in some patients, but vaping it will not irritate the respiratory system at all.
Different compounds in marijuana have different actions in the human body. For example, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) seems to cause the “high” reported by consumers of marijuana, and also can help relieve pain, nausea, reduce inflammation, and can act as an antioxidant. Cannabidiol (CBD) can help treat seizures and can reduce anxiety and paranoia. Different cultivars (strains or types) and even different crops of marijuana plants can have varying amounts of these and other active compounds. This means that marijuana can have different effects based on the strain used.
The effects of marijuana also vary depending on how marijuana compounds enter the body. When taken by mouth, the THC is absorbed poorly and can take hours to be absorbed. Once it’s absorbed, it is processed by the liver, which produces a second psychoactive compound (a substance that acts on the brain and changes mood or consciousness) that affects the brain differently than THC. When marijuana is smoked or vaporized (inhaled), THC enters the bloodstream and goes to the brain quickly. The second psychoactive compound is produced in small amounts, and so has less effect. The effects of inhaled marijuana fade faster than marijuana taken by mouth.
There are 2 chemically pure drugs based on marijuana compounds that have been approved in the U.S. for medical use. Dronabinol (Marinol®) is a gelatin capsule containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that’s approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy as well as weight loss and poor appetite in patients with AIDS. Nabilone (Cesamet®) is a synthetic cannabinoid that acts much like THC. It can be taken by mouth to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy when other drugs have not worked. Based on a number of studies, dronabinol can be helpful for reducing nausea and vomiting linked to chemotherapy. Dronabinol has also been found to help improve food intake and prevent weight loss in patients with HIV. If synthetic marijuana produced by pharmaceutical companies can do this much, imagine what vaping the THC and CBD from real plants can do for patients if only it were not illegal.
Nabiximols is a cannabinoid drug still being tested in clinical trials in the U.S. In Canada, Nabiximols has been approved for the treatment of MS spasticity and pain linked to cancer. It is a mouth spray made up of a whole-plant extract with THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in an almost one to one mix. It is available not only in Canada, but also in parts of Europe. Many studies have shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials usually needed less narcotic pain medicine.
The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. They also believe that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. The American Cancer Society firmly believes that medical decisions concerning pain and symptom management should be made between the patient and his or her doctor, balancing evidence of benefit and harm to the patient with the patient’s preferences.2
The U.S. was once a truly exceptional country that created the freest, most prosperous, major multicultural nation in the world. Our country fought and won two world wars, built a social welfare state, established a stable national banking system, won the vote and equal rights for women and minorities, constructed a formidable national infrastructure, and instituted environmental safeguards. The Republican party of the past used to have many good presidents, unlike Trump, Rubio, Cruz and all the other puppets who represent the ruling class. It was Republican President Eisenhower who expanded Social Security and built the largest public works program in history during the 1950’s — the Interstate Highway System. Eisenhower was a five-star general in the U.S. army during World War II and he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, the opposite of today’s privileged draft-dodging Republican candidates. In the good old days, Republicans joined Democrats in passing Lyndon B. Johnson’s landmarks civil rights legislation.
Unfortunately, those days are gone. Today, the red states often squander their natural resources to keep their living costs low for their expanding poorly educated middle class. They don’t want to pay higher taxes so that all citizens have access to affordable healthcare. The red states preach about personal responsibility and self-reliance, which is ridiculous, because no individual is self-reliant. Anyone whose home is destroyed by a natural disaster loses his self-reliance overnight, as does a successful businessman who develops ALS or some other debilitating disease. They try incessantly to destroy social programs and make the government so tiny that it cannot function properly and be able to offer support to the elderly and disabled. The misogyny, racism, and contempt for the poor among the conservative candidates shows a dearth of compassion. Why would any U.S. citizen vote for a politcal party that systematically works to deprive honest working Americans of healthcare, a party that tries to prevent college students, the elderly and the poor from exercising their constitutionally mandated right to vote, that promotes war as the only viable approach to foreign policy, that wants to prevent young poor women from having access to abortion if they are raped and then giving parental rights to the rapists, a party that is adamantly against any kind of reasonable medical marijuana laws despite all the evidence that it treats many diseases?
Any state that prevents sick people from using one of God’s plants to relieve their suffering or cure their form of cancer is committing a crime against humanity. The govenors of Alaska and Arizona accept this so there is hope for the other red states. If the governors of all the other red states ever begin to understand this, scientists and researchers will be allowed to study the plant and cure many types of cancer and other diseases. Perhaps they already do understand this, but they are controlled by the pharmaceutical industry that does not want to lose money on its expensive cancer drugs. They already refuse to negotiate with the government to make medicine more affordable for the sickest disabled and elderly citizens on Medicare. One thing is certain: the federal ban on marijuana will not be lifted until the red states change their agenda or get voted out of office.
1Rahn, Bailey. (November 4, 2015) Leafly. (Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-shows-promise-in-yet-another-type-of-cancer-hcc-liver-tu?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Week%2045%20Weekend%20News%20-%20Treatment&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_term=newsletter)
2American Cancer Society. (Retreived from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/marijuana-and-cancer).