Pubdate: Tue, 29 Jul 2008
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Terrace Standard
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


Dear Sir:

It is understandable that smoking cannabis for medicinal purposes
makes no sense to Dr. John Krisinger as indicated in his recent letter
to the editor.

 From a medical perspective, it makes no sense to run boiling water
through ground coffee beans to get a caffeine fix when their are
caffeine and amphetamine pills available. Modern medicine is all about
single chemical compounds. Cannabis is an herb, or natural health
product, more like a food than a drug.

Yes, there is a pill for treating nausea that contains one of the
therapeutically active cannabinoids, THC, however, as the doctor
mentioned, the pill is much slower acting and therefore difficult to
titrate. Also, because the pill lacks potentiating cannabinoids, such
as CBD, many patients find it makes them too high.

Sativex, the oromucosal (mouth) spray is better, in that it is a
faster-acting, whole-cannabis extract, however it is still much slower
than smoking, more expensive per dose, and still under trial for
treating neuropathic pain.

The good news is that whole cannabis can be baked, added to beverages
and tinctures or vaporized, allowing patients to rapidly inhale their
medicine without inhaling the harmful by-products of combustion.
Smokers can also avoid lung congestion by using smaller amounts of
more potent, organic cannabis and refined cannabis products such as
hashish, making sure not to hold the smoke in.

Regarding addiction, less than 10 per cent of cannabis consumers use
cannabis every month and less than 2 per cent use cannabis daily. The
withdrawal symptoms are relatively trivial and the risk of
psychological dependence relatively minor. Most cannabis consumers
abstain on their own with little effort or discomfort.

Long-term heavy cannabis smoking can cause chronic congestion and
bronchitis. However, there is no evidence that smoking cannabis causes
cancer. In fact, there is some evidence that cannabis suppresses and
even prevents some forms of cancer. Those who smoke less than a few
joints per day risk less lung damage than those who elect to live in
polluted cities.

Perhaps it makes sense to patients to palliate their symptoms now and
worry about long-term lung congestion later, especially if their
condition is terminal. Surely this should be a judgment left to
patients and doctors, not police officers, courts and posturing
politicians. I would wager that stigmatization, fear of arrest and
criminal sanctions are worse for your health than pot smoking.

Matthew M. Elrod

Victoria, B.C.
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