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Poitical abuses in national research authority

Stephan Anagnostaras stephan at psych.ucla.edu
Sat Oct 19 04:42:59 EST 1996

In article <545m4l$gqh at fremont.ohsu.edu>, Matt Jones <jonesmat at ohsu.edu> wrote:

> In article <542fb3$ht0 at falcon.le.ac.uk> Dr E. Buxbaum, EB15 at le.ac.uk
> writes:
> >On the other hand we have considerable problems in our society with
> addictive 
> >drugs. Amplifying 
> >those by creating a legal market for jet another one of them should be 
> >considered only in dire 
> >emergency, if all other options are exausted. Opiates and
> benzodiazepines show 
> >how easy it is 
> >to divert such substances from legal to illegal use. And cannabis IS an
> addictive drug, 
> >contrary to the long disproved claims of its proponents. It can cause 
> >psychological dependency 
> >in "normal", and physical dependency in very high doses. 
> Dr. Buxbaum, 
> Would you mind providing citations to support your statement that
> marijuana is addictive?

I tend to agree here, the bulk of scientific evidence suggests that cannabis
is not addictive, either in the outdated traditional framework you
refer to (that it produces physical dependence) or in a more modern
framework (that it is compulsively reinforcing).  Moreover, your claims
about opiates and benzodiazepines are also questionable; how many
valium or tylenol-3 users can you produce which will give up their
family and belongings for another hit of the drug?  Clearly your definition
of addictive needs some modification, or the entire country of Canada
would be in serious trouble. For example, the fact that a drug
activates the opiate receptor does not mean that it is addictive.
Drugs like codeine, which act weakly and are taken up very slowly in
the brain actually show very little addictive potential and even
don't produce much dependence.  THis is in contrast to other
drugs which the medical community insists on using, e.g., dilaudid &
fentanyl, which have almost no safety margin, and are by all indications
more addictive than heroin! 

This aside, I don't tend to think that marijuana should be entirely legal
to use, at least in the smokeable form, solely (for me) because it
contains many potent carcinogens.  <Obviusly, you can guess that I don't
think cigarettes should be legal either> On the other hand, I certainly
think that terminal cancer patients (and others with incurable
bowel problems, like UC/IBD patients) should have access to as
much as they want.  More importantly, the scientific development of
synthetic THCs and their medical use should not be hindered, specifically
because these drugs have a much better safety margin and less abuse
liability than very highly addictive opiates which are being used
in medical settings (e.g., sublimaze & dilaudid; certainly this is
not the case with p.o. codeine, which is almost entirely harmless). At
the very least the proven superiority of THC as an antiemetic to
both phenergan and tigan at the very least should justify its
use in patients with severe GI distress, particularly those who are
terminally or chronically ill (e.g., cancer+chemo/radio, or IBD patients).
More importantly, they would not need to be smoked, the way hemp
needs to be. At the very least, doctors should have the discretion
to prescribe marinol, given the evidence is that this drug is much
safer than other drugs they can prescribe
<e.g., sublimaze, barbiturates, ritalin, dexadrine, etc.).

Just my 2c

> I think that Patricia and Bill Skaggs raise excellent points. Aside from
> all the loaded issues surrounding whether cannabis is "moral" or even
> "safe" (which it is, relatively speaking), there are the practical issues
> of drug development procedures and cost to consider. Cannabis is a
> substance that millions of people in this country, and probably billions
> of people throughout history, have used for either medical or
> recreational reasons. It literally grows on trees, and there're plenty of
> people who would absolutely love to help grow it for medical and private
> purposes. It's right here in front of our faces, and has the possibility
> of being a clinically useful agent, but we'll never know unless we study
> all aspects of its use scientifically. Ignoring its existence, or
> forbidding people from studying it, or jailing people for growing or
> using it, is a waste of time and money (to say the least) because it
> grows like a weed anyway. 
> I would also point out that derivatives of the opium poppy are addictive
> (I'm sure I can find references for this if I need to), but that doesn't
> prevent us from making excellent use of these compounds in operating
> rooms or cough syrup. 
> Cheers,
> Matt Jones

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