Cannabis: The good,the bad and the ugly!

There have been over 20 controlled studies for patients who are suffering from neuropathic (nerve) pain. They claim that Cannabis has been moderately successful but there have been complications—not surprising since adverse effects are possible with EVERY drug we use. Neuropathic pain (pain due to nerve injury or damage) can be caused by diabetes, drug reactions, and compression. In many cases, we do not even know the cause of nerve pain.

A few small studies found Cannabis was valuable in AIDS—especially improving appetite and chronic pain.

Contrary to popular literature that extols Cannabis, it does not affect the progression of cancer in the few studies that have been done. Most articles in this category are poorly done. Of course, the road is wide open for studies now using Cannabis as a prime agent in treatment.

It has been effective in preventing some of the side effects of chemotherapy.

Cannabis decreases intraocular (EYE) pressure in patients with glaucoma but has not proven superior to standard current treatment for glaucoma. It does not prevent surgery for glaucoma.

There have been many studies on the effect of Cannabis in chronic multiple sclerosis, mainly to control severe muscle spasm that occur with that disease. Some of the studies found benefit in 65% of the patients, whereas in another group, no significant effects were noted, and side effects—some severe—were common. This is one of the major problems with current studies, in that dosages and Cannabis preparations are not standardized. In my opinion, physicians who are prescribing it, including myself, are flying by the seat of our pants much in the same way as physicians in the 1940s when they began to use Penicillin. Of course, that drug literally changed medical history!

Our population will become a giant experimental animal! It behooves any physician to follow these patients carefully and document the good, bad, and the ugly about this powerful drug! Also,it behooves patients to carefully document any suspected side effects.

I myself was involved in a small study and became very anxious on a synthetic preparation and had to stop. It is similar to any chemical substance we introduce into our bodies, including herbs, natural substances, naturopathic medicines, and so-called supplements. Like all chemicals we put in our bodies drugs are helpful to some, of no value to others and can cause serious and sometimes fatal results!. In addition, there is a substantial placebo effect in every study of any foreign substance we imbibe! 

There have been a number of studies in the use of Cannabis in chronic pain. Again, the dosages were not mentioned, the cause of the pain was not documented, and the results were “mixed”.

In studies of heavy smokers of Cannabis, there is evidence of significant cognitive disability associated with brain remodelling especially in the frontal lobes of the brain. Some other studies found no such effects. Again, one does not know the nature of the Cannabis, nor the dose used.

In studies of adverse effects, they have shown that in the short term, it decreases memory, decreases learning ability, interferes with logical thought, and decreases coordination and motor skills.  Much more research is needed! 

There are reports of patients coming to emergency rooms with a very fast sometimes irregular heart beat, especially in those patients who inhale Cannabis and especially in those patients who use marijuana vapour. Many of these young people who present in this fashion have also been taking methamphetamines, or speed, or Ecstasy,  or other substances which are commonly mixed with Cannabis. There have been deaths reported.

Reports from emergency rooms indicate severe anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis. A recent conversation with emergency room physicians reveals that many patients had been in the emergency room with extensive vomiting—the so-called cannabis hyperemesis syndrome—causing severe vomiting lasting weeks and is very difficult to treat. I have personally seen a few of these patients.

In addition, a recent personal communication with some of the staff of one of our local University health units, revealed that the commonest problem they see these days is acute marijuana-induced psychosis!

Studies from Switzerland have suggested an increase of schizophrenia in addicts.

A recent report from  the University of Queensland, Australia studying youth substance abuse over 20 years, revealed the adverse effects of recreational substance abuse. The conclusion was that in the past 20 years they have shown that driving while under the influence of Cannabis approximately doubles car crash risk and around 10% of Cannabis users develop dependence, or addiction. 

It is suggested that Cannabis smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive lung disease similar to tobacco. Other studies have revealed, besides chronic obstructive lung disease, there is a strong IMPRESSION that it also increases the incidence of lung cancer but many of the study group were also cigarette smokers.

A recent study from The Centres of Disease Control in the United States, records over a million emergency room visits in which the patients were using marijuana. In one half of those patients, there was also evidence of contamination with other addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

I would add that Cannabis is going to be the only prescribed pharmacological substance that has not gone through rigorous investigation. Raphael Mechoulam, who has been studying this drug for over forty  years stated recently that he thinks that “it is a medical treasure trove waiting to be discovered – but we have barely scratched the surface”. What he is saying is that the population is now going to become a giant experimental animal. I there is any one more knowledgeable about this chemical. He agrees it should be decriminalized, but is very wary of the drug is now going to be legalized, which he says, because of the drugs powerful effect on our emotions, “legalizing it is silly”. In some countries such as Portugal,who have decriminalized it, and the users enter a active therapy program. It is treated as a disorder not a crime.

There are multiple drugs available for the general public and one can only speculate how many  young people got their start on Cannabis—one of the most abused substances. Usually, when a pandemic occurs, the whole medical apparatus is mobilized to find the cause, treatment, and prevention of the problem. We do not know the cause of this epidemic of drug abuse, we do not know the treatment, and we do not know how to prevent it!

My purpose of this site is to EDUCATE the population on the truth about drugs, and with that knowledge perhaps the population at least know the dangers, not only from illegal drugs such as narcotics but all chemicals in society. We must stop treating drug addicts as criminals. There are many organizations world wide that are using education, to try and convince our children never to start!                                                                                

Perhaps Freud and other psychiatrists and psychologists were right!

“Life as we find it is too hard for us: it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks”. Freud – in Civilizations and its Discontents, his massive work.

Schopehhauer was even more pessimistic and stated that life IS just suffering: constant struggle in which physical pain and mental anguish are present, ones judgment must we be better if nothing had ever existed at all!!

No one knows how many of our young are self-treating some problem!

There is a website entitled Risk.org created by Dr. David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry, who is on a crusade against overuse of modern anti-psychotic drugs such as Prozac, which can increase suicide, sexual abuse, and other suddenly common behaviors now reaching epidemic proportions! If interested, see his book “Pharmageddon”

The powerful drug Marijuana is about to be launched in Canada for “recreational” use. The good thing is that no longer will a young person be incarcerated for carrying Cannabis. The ugly things are the side effects and we do not understand how to prevent them, aside from abstinence.

Caveat Emptor! (BUYER BEWARE!)

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