Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
“It would be irresponsible to allow the importation of cannabis into Jersey. I could not support a proposition to issue a special licence to an individual for the possession of illegal cannabis in its raw form, where neither the quality nor composition of the product, its safety, dosage or levels of individual use could be effectively monitored and I would urge members to vote firmly against this proposition.”
Deputy Anne Pryke, September 2014
Jersey is in an enviable position regarding medicinal cannabis. As a Crown dependency the island has constitutional rights of self-government and judicial independence. It is within the power of Deputy Pryke, the Minister of Health, to issue a licence for Bedrocan medicinal cannabis to be imported from Holland where it is grown legally for medicinal purposes under the regulation of the Dutch government.
A formal States petition has been delivered and Deputy Montford Tadier (the Jersey equivalent of an MP) has requested that an import licence be issued for his constituent, Evelyn Volante who suffers from ulcerative colitis. See a video about her use of medicinal cannabis here. You see above the disgraceful, monstrous, cruel and ignorant words which Deputy Pryke has spoken in response.
Now these are strong words. Too strong for the people at Politics Jersey, where my description of this politician’s conduct met with wide support but then I was kicked out by the admin team who described it as a “personal attack” and an “insult”.
I repeat my description of Deputy Pryke’s conduct as monstrous and cruel. If we cannot call out politicians for actions they take or words they speak in their official capacity then what sort of democracy do they have in Jersey?
To deny anyone access to a medicine that is proven by science to treat a serious medical condition is monstrous and cruel in any and all circumstances. This is a self-evident truth which renders Deputy Pryke unfit to hold any office in government, particularly that of Minister of Health.
Deputy Pryke’s words are also astonishingly ignorant. It is clear that she has been negligent in her duty properly to consider the evidence relating to cannabis and ulcerative colitis.
Cannabis works for all forms of inflammatory bowel disease because the bowel contains CB1 and CB2 receptors which when modulated by cannabis turn off inflammation. Thus it provides more than simply palliative relief. It actually treats the cause of the conditions. For all intents and purposes it is a cure.
Bedrocan cannabis, as approved and regulated by the Dutch government’s Bureau voor Medicinale Cannabis, is strictly quality controlled and its composition and safety are at least as well proven as any pharmaceutical product. As for levels of individual use, this is the same as with any medicine and is controlled by the amount prescribed.
1. The best evidence of all is Ms Volante’s own experience. She already uses cannabis, illegally, and it works better for her than the highly toxic and debilitating pharmaceutical medicines which are offered by her doctor.
2. There is a vast quantity of anecdotal evidence and personal experience from thousands of people around the world using cannabis effectively to treat ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Deputy Pryke could spend 15 minutes on Google.
3. Many peer reviewed studies show positive benefits and few adverse side effects from treating ulcerative colitis with cannabis. The following are just a small selection
Esposito G et al. Cannabidiol in inflammatory bowel disease: a brief overview. Phytotherapy Research 2012 July; doi:10.1002/ptr.4781
Lahat A et al. Impact of cannabis treatment on the quality of life, weight and clinical disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease patients: a pilot prospective study. Digestion 2012; 85(1): 1-8
Lal S et al. Cannabis use amongst patients with inflammatory bowel disease. European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2011 Oct; 23(10): 891-96
Naftali T et al. Treatment of Crohn’s disease with cannabis: an observational study. Israel Medical Association Journal 2011 Aug; 1(8): 455-58
4. GW Pharmaceuticals is presently conducting phase II clinical trials into cannabis for ulcerative colitis.
5. The Meir Medical Center in Israel is also conducting clinical trials and claims 90% of patients achieve significant clinical benefit with no side effects.
In pursuit of their World Cup ambitions, England must face Uruguay, the only country in the world where cannabis is fully legalised and regulated by the government.
But is cannabis a performance enhancing drug? Will the Uruguay players have an unfair advantage?
In America there is much debate about cannabis in sport. It is widespread in baseball, football and almost de rigueur in ice hockey.
The evidence is that moderate cannabis use probably is performance enhancing, in that it will improve recovery, healing and general health. Used as an intoxicant it will dull the senses for a while but far less than a night on the San Miguel.
Of course, if you’re not playing then both together is also fully acceptable in polite society nowadays, particularly if you also have a doctor’s recommendation. So how can sport regulators deal with that? Is it just medicine?
Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists (let’s call them synthetic cannabinoids) are highly toxic, dangerous substances associated with a range of extremely serious, potentially fatal, medical conditions.
Synthetic cannabinoids are intended to mimic the effects of THC but they can be 50 or even 100 times more potent. They also bind more tightly to the CB1 receptor meaning the effect can be more intense and longer lasting. They are nothing like real cannabis. They don’t have the balancing effect of CBD and other cannabinoids. There is no ‘entourage effect‘, now known to be the real engine of the therapeutic and pleasant effects of real cannabis.
Cannabis is probably the least toxic, therapeutic and psychoactive substances known to science but these nasty chemicals are the very opposite. Why would anyone sell them? They are the product of prohibition and sold by immoral, irresponsible, exploitative drug dealers who are no better than those that sell dirty heroin or crack on the streets to the most vulnerable people. Most synthetic cannabinoids are sold to children, teenagers or very young adults.
Synthetic cannabinoids are associated with seizure, stroke, severe kidney problems, panic attacks, cardiac arrest, severe psychotic episodes, fever, dehydration, paranoia, hallucinations, supraventricular tachycardia - the list goes on and on.
Of course, you have no idea what you’re getting, which synthetic cannabinoid is in the ‘Spice‘ or ‘K2‘ that you’ve been sold or, indeed, whether there’s a cocktail. Many of these products sold as ‘legal highs‘ actually contain substances that have been banned, so buying them doesn’t even protect you from prosecution. Well it might, or it might not. You just don’t know. The shops that sell these products have no idea what’s in them either.
You have no idea how they are manufactured, in what conditions, using what precursors or what dangerous chemical processes. You have no idea how they are mixed into herbal material if they look like weed or into a squidgy black substance if they look like hash. I’ve seen Chris Bovey of Totnes, Europe’s biggest dealer in synthetic cannabinoids, mix his fake hash. He uses a food mixer and just adds random amounts of anonymous white powder to whatever is the base substance. God knows what that already contains.
Bovey told me that he has a chemist working in Austria who comes up with the compounds for his ‘legal highs‘. He then uses laboratories in China to manufacture them. He showed me a canister, rather like a large tea caddy, covered in Chinese writing and symbols. There was no measurement of any sort. He just tipped several slugs of the powder into the mixing bowl and then a bit more for luck.
I do wonder though whether his motives are more sinister. Why would Bovey, who claims to have made more than £500,000.00 personally from selling ‘Spice‘, want to see cannabis legalised? It doesn’t really make any sense. His role may be about subverting the cannabis campaign in the UK. He has certainly succeeded in creating massive negative energy and meanwhile his ‘legal highs‘ empire is expanding worldwide, even as far as Japan.
Irrespective of Bovey’s involvement in this nasty business, steer well clear of synthetic cannabinoids. I am not calling for them to be banned. That would only drive them underground and create yet another criminal market. The real answer is to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis and MDMA, both relatively safe substances. If we did that then the market for these horrible synthetics would dry up. New Zealand has gone halfway there already with its Psychoactive Substances Act 2013, very intelligent and progressive legislation. It’s a model that the rest of the world would do well to follow and I see no reason why cannabis and MDMA couldn’t be included in it.
Synthetic cannabis risk ‘vast’: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/global-drug-survey/9945906/Synthetic-cannabis-risk-vast
Synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 and psychosis: An explorative study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871611000639
Severe Toxicity Following Synthetic Cannabinoid Ingestion: http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15563650.2011.609822
The synthetic cannabinoid Spice as a trigger for an acute exacerbation of cannabis induced recurrent psychotic episodes: http://www.schres-journal.com/article/S0920-9964(09)00591-X/abstract
Understanding the dangers of the fake marijuana called ‘Spice’ or ‘K2′: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131002112426.htm
Why Synthetic Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than the Real Thing: http://www.livescience.com/18646-synthetic-marijuana-dangerous-health.html
Acute Kidney Injury Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoid Use: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6206a1.htm
Rebecca Smith, health editor and Martha Gill, blogger, both of the Daily Telegraph have been getting a hard time in the comment threads of the pieces they published on cannabis yesterday and deservedly so.
Rebecca Smith is by far the worst offender, publishing such gross distortions of the study she was reporting on that I have submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. It’s dreadful that someone granted the title of health editor can be so casually ignorant of science, evidence and ready to mix up her opinion and wild speculation with just a smidgin of fact here and there. Incidentally, I expect no satisfaction from the PCC. Three years and nearly 100 complaints show that it is a deeply corrupt organisation that acts only in the interests of the press to find excuses for breaches of the Editors’ Code. Its nothing to do with protecting readers from inaccurate, misleading and distorted reporting.
Martha Gill does a bit better because she points out what a vacuous and meaningless piece of research Rebecca Smith has made such a fuss about. But Martha, apparently, writes for the New Statesman on ‘neuroscience and politics’. She’s entitled to her political views, which are self-evident given the publication concerned but on neuroscience, the clue is in the third and fourth syllables. It’s science, not opinion and Martha is woefully out touch with the evidence. If she’s not careful she”ll grow up into a mumsy moraliser like Libby Purves or Lowri Turner. She should try reading Professor Gary Wenk, Professor David Nutt, Professor Les Iversen, Professor Peter Jones, Professor Terrie Moffitt or Professor Roger Pertwee. They and many others could give her a grounding in the neuroscience of cannabis: it’s almost undetectable toxicity, its powerful antioxidant and neuroprotective qualities, its anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects. Her sweeping statement that “cannabis bad for you” is simply wrong. For most adults, in moderation, it’s beneficial.
Martha is also detached from reality and distant from the evidence, as is all of Fleet Street, when it comes to the risks of cannabis. The endless screeds that are written about the risks of cannabis use correlating with schizophrenia or psychosis are ridiculous when you consider the evidence. Hickman et al, 2009, a review of all published research so, by definition, not cherry picked, shows the risk of lifetime cannabis use correlating with a single diagnosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%. By contrast, correlation between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia is 80% – 90% (Zammit et al, 2003) but when do you ever read that in a newspaper?
I’m sorry you’re getting a hard time Rebecca and Martha but you and the ‘capos’ of the Fleet Street Mafia need to realise that people have had enough of your bad science, sensationalism and scaremongering about cannabis. The internet means we can’t be bullied and misinformed by newspapers anymore which is why your circulation is plummeting and journalists are held in ever lower esteem. We know you’ve spent years supporting Big Booze with its £800 million pa advertising budget. Obviously it’s desperate to hang on to its monopoly of recreational drugs but if you want to stay in business you’re going to have to start treating readers with respect and with facts and evidence, not baloney.
The Daily Telegraph has become a broadsheet-sized tabloid since it broke the MPs expenses scandal and it is genuinely difficult to distinguish its headlines, writing and content from The Daily Mail these days.
Of course, there’s a lot of rubbish in comment threads but there’s also a lot that’s better informed and considered than in the articles themselves.
People like cannabis, they find it effective, they know it’s safe. 5% of the population uses it regularly. That’s three times as many people as go to Catholic Church regularly.
Expect to be pulled to bits if you try to go back to bad science and reefer madness hysteria. The world has moved on.
NHS Choices published an article today that represents a sea change in attitudes towards cannabis.
Finally, it seems, the facts and evidence seem to be getting through, even in Britain. Cannabis is close to a miracle plant, closely intertwined with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, providing nurture, therapy and healing for many illnesses and promoting good health and wellbeing.
Of course, like anything, even water, it is not without the potential for harm. It is habit forming, about as much as coffee. Children shouldn’t be using it, just as they shouldn’t be drinking double espressos. The madness that is current policy causes far more harm than it prevents. We need to get the dealers off the streets, regulate and control the market properly and start allowing the people of Britain to benefit from the plant they have been denied for too long.
So I’ve stuck with it. A shot every day for five days so far and I do feel better for it. Of course it could be any one of a hundred other unconnected reasons but as best as I can determine, my appetite is slightly reduced and I generally feel better this week than I did last.
I thought I felt a surge of energy after yesterday’s dose but I have felt pretty bad and bilious all day. My second dose definitely rejuvenated me this evening. I have bowed to the inevitable that my cocktail shall be called a Virgin Mary Jane.
Today I juiced a bucketful of shade leaves, trimmed from a very large white widow cannabis plant.
My excellent Breville juicer produced exactly a pint of thick, green cannabis juice which tastes vile.
I shall consume one shot of this each day and report any observable results. My measure is an espresso cup which I have measured at 80 ml (my pint of juice is, near as damn it, 600 ml).
Today’s medicine was taken in a large glass of ice cold V8 vegetable juice with a generous slug of Worcestershire sauce, an extended shake of Tabasco and a little salt.