22 June 2005

Will Medical Marijuana Become Irrelevant?

As I have stated previously, I am somewhat suspicious of the pro-medical marijuana arguments. If you've been reading this blawg for a while you'll remember a couple years ago when I asked if marijuana's effects are as good as advertised why hasn't anyone come up with a pill containing the effective ingredients? After all, we know it can effect people through ingestion (brownies).

Well, it looks as though my proffered solution was backward. Rather than try to put the ingredients of marijuana in a pill scientists are going to stop the breakdown of "stress-induced analgesia" which appears to be a fancy way of saying "the brain's own marijuana-like compounds." In other words, it won't induce from an external source, it will stop the body from reducing its own compounds which marijuana mimics.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine they haven't made a pill yet for the same reason that nobody has made a beverage that gets you drunk but won't make you throw up if you drink too much.

Jim said...

There is a pill (or at least a liquid) that contains the same compounds (not just THC) as in marijuana; see this post at Last One Speaks: http://lastonespeaks.blogspot.com/2005_06_19_lastonespeaks_archive.html#111928553397419700

Some people, including many in great pain and with awful, debilitating diseases, find some relief in smoking marijuana. Maybe there is reason to be suspicious of some arguments for med mj, but the fact that it is a great comfort to many people is established. Why would we want to threaten these people with the choice between pain or jail?

Incidentally, a great book on this issue is "Mom's Marijuana", that tells the story of a conservative mother who puts her freedom and assets at risk to grow marijuana to relieve the symptoms of her son's chemo.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375708014/qid=1119572561/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/102-2314288-8027343

Anonymous said...

Ken -

I know you're skeptical about medical pot. Can you explain why it should be such a crime to carry, while, say, alcohol is not? I'm actually curious, as I don't see this day-to-day. I know drunks are dangerous, but the potheads I know, well, they aren't the sort I'd call on for a barn raising, but they aren't as bad as the drunks, by any stretch. I have data points: I just got back from a barn raising. My mother's. There was a lot of dope around at the time, along with some really spicy chili (Mom supplied the chili; any illicit plants were the responsibility of the volunteers. I realize my mother could be forced to (a) pay income tax, (b) be jailed, (c) forfeit her home, (d) or otherwise be hounded for building a barn. I, personally, am proud - we did something great - but can only be anonymous here. Come to think of it, I imagined all that.). We had a couple of bring-a-six-pack types, and they sat it out, for the most part, and left when the stoners (and the others like me) called them out. I'm sure they'll enjoy church this weekend.

-come to think of it, this is all a fancy; it isn't like this sort of thing actually happens in a country like ours.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the formatting on that last bit, something went wrong. I also meant to turn the answer into a question, but I also meant to dust the apartment last weekend. I hope you understand on both counts.

Chris said...

Ken, there are many reasons there isn't a marijuana pill yet. One reason is that as a researcher it's darn near impossible to be permitted by the government to do any research on marijuana to isolate any of the hundreds of chemical compounds in marijuana smoke that may or may not play a part in the coctail of compounds that medical mj users find effective. This leads into the other issue which is that its not just THC that is at work here, and it is not know which compounds in this coctail together produce the desired results. In order to come up with this "pot pill" researchers would need to conduct research on which compounds make up this mixture, and put those in the pill. This is the whole catch-22 of the issue. If the federal government really wanted to blunt the medical mj issue, all they would need to do is to allow drug companies to do research on marijuana. However, to do so would be to concede it is at least effective medicine to some, which undermines the whole "pot is no good" meme... round and round we go...

Anonymous said...

There is a drug called Marinol which contains one of the most predominant THC alkaloids found in the plant. It is prescribed to those who are undergoing chemotherapy for AIDS or cancer. Andrew Sullivan has (or once had) a prescription and I recall he once wrote an article on it. Apparently it makes you very tired and doesn't stimulate the appetite as much as the natural form.
As for medical marijuana in general, I suggest reading his piece called "The Pleasure Principal," it makes the point that people seem to be averse to marijuana as medicine because it makes you "high." If a patient is undergoing treatment that makes them depressed, I can certainly see the utility in their being high some of the time. Don't get me wrong, I usually think Sullivan is full of it, but he has a great first-hand grasp of this issue.