In my daily perusal of marijuana news today, I came across a blog post from NORML, highlighting a statistic that may be shocking to many. There have been over 20,000 studies in the scientific literature on the cannabis plant and its properties, making it the most studied plant on earth (despite the intentions of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency).
And what have we learned from these 20,000+ studies? Not surprisingly, quite a lot. For starters, we know that cannabis and its active constituents are uniquely safe and effective as therapeutic compounds. Unlike most prescription or over-the-counter medications, cannabinoids are virtually non-toxic to health cells or organs, and they are incapable of causing the user to experience a fatal overdose. Unlike opiates, cannabinoids do not depress the central nervous system, and as a result they possess a virtually unparalleled safety profile. In fact, a 2008 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) reported that cannabis-based drugs were associated with virtually no serious adverse side effects in over 30 years of investigative use.
We also know that the cannabis plant contains in excess of 60 active compounds that likely possess distinctive therapeutic properties. These include THC, THCV, CBD, THCA, CBC, and CBG, among others. In fact, a recent review by Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues identifies nearly 30 separate therapeutic effects — including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, neuroprotection, and anti-stroke properties — in cannabinoids other than THC. Most recently, a review by researchers in Germany reported that since 2005 there have been 37 controlled studies assessing the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids, involved a total of 2,563 subjects. By contrast, most FDA-approved drugs go through far fewer trials involving far fewer subjects.
So what’s the hold up with medical marijuana in the U.S.? The aforementioned DEA is the main culprit, along with their main weapon – the fact that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance in this country. Why a “law enforcement” agency is involved in medical and scientific decisions in the United States is beyond me. What exactly is their expertise in these areas?
How can so many so-called compassionate people sit back and watch the way we treat sick people and do nothing? I believe the main problem is that information like this isn’t available to most people. And maybe that’s our failure; maybe we haven’t done enough, and just think that most people should know this stuff by now.
But we can’t get complacent. The sad fact is that most people just don’t pay attention. They have a million things going on in their own lives, and don’t have time for things that don’t effect them directly. So it’s up to us; whether they want the information or not, it’s our job to get it out there in their faces. Share all you can about the cannabis plant and all it can do with everyone you know. Even if only one person is intrigued enough to study the issue themselves, you’ve made a difference.