Tag Archives: research

Cannabis vs Alcohol – PART II

cannabis v alcohol deathsAs the US gets ever closer to their 2012 Presidential election, medical marijuana coverage seems to be increasing over there. With medical marijuana dispensaries getting closed down in certain states it would appear that the pro-cannabis movement is cranking up the volume.

So while I was rummaging through the Stateside news this week I came across this statistic:

Deaths from Cannabis = 0 (ever)
Deaths from Alcohol = 2,000,000 (every year)

You would think that the more dangerous drug, ie alcohol, would be the illegal product. So with a zero death toll I can see why the pro-cannabis lobbyists are trying so hard to fight for the cannabis corner, and ultimately the decriminalisation of this fabulous herb as well as better medical research into the benefits it can bring.

Cannabis as a treatment has been controversial as there is conflicting research about whether medical cannabis is or is not addictive. Many studies have found that cannabis is not addictive, or as harmful, as other drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and opiates.

There has been a few medical studies peformed over the last few years to ascertain whether the herb has a solid medical application, and three of the most compelling studies I’ve found are below:

1) A 2009 study found that injections of THC, the primary active chemical in cannabis, helped eliminate dependence on opiates such as morphine and heroin in test animals.

2) A survey on addiction treatment and relapse rates amongst substance users found that respondents used cannabis to curb their alcohol cravings, and as an alternative to previous use of prescription drugs, and even as a substitute for more potent drugs such as cocaine.

3) Another study published in the Harm Reduction Journal over in the US found that medical cannabis users were much less likely to use more potent drugs, and even reported less tobacco use than non-cannabis users.

To me, it couldn’t be clearer that more effective research is needed; not just in the US, but on a global scale. Since withdrawal from alcohol and serious drug use often prompts the same symptoms as other medical conditions that cannabis is used to treat (anxiety, depression, pain, nausea, and sleeplessness), it seems logical that responsible use of cannabis could also help with addiction recovery.

Just to round off this post, I’ve pasted below a beautiful illustration depicting several cannabis vs alcohol statistics.

alcohol Vs cannabis chart

Makes you wonder why cannabis is so vilified, doesn’t it?

…I’m also thinking of moving to Oregon, where apparently you are allowed to legally possess 24 ounces of the green gold, according to the chart above!

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Can Cannabinoids Cure Cancer?

cannabinoid receptors in the brainI read some more positive news about the application of Cannabis as a medicine today, and this time it comes from none other than the Cancer Research UK Science blog. The full article can be read by clicking here. It is a rather long post so I’ll do my best to summarise it below.

First up, I just want to say that seeing this type of bona fide research into the medical benefits of cannabis brings a warm glow to the heart. Yes it’s a class B drug in the UK, yes it can get you stoned, yes it’s a sociable drug that you want to share with friends, get the munchies, giggle your arse off and not fight anyone or stab anyone or be obnoxious and anti-social, and you can just wake up the next day and get on with your life…but as you can see the applications for this wonder plant go far beyond recreational drug use.

The Cancer Research blog post is focusing on cannabinoids, which are the active chemicals found throughout the plant. They stress that there isn’t enough evidence yet to prove conclusively that cannabinoids can effectively treat cancer, however research is ongoing globally.

Apparently we have two types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found mainly in the nervous system including the brain, and CB2 is found in the immune system. It’s thought that the CB1 receptors are responsible for getting us high (which makes sense if the CB1 is found in our nervous system).

I had to quote the following directly from the blog post as it is fascinating:

“Through many detailed experiments, handily summarised in this recent article in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, scientists have discovered that various cannabinoids (both natural and synthetic) have a wide range of effects in the lab, including:

  • Triggering cell death, through a mechanism called apoptosis.
  • Stopping cells from dividing.
  • Preventing new blood vessels from growing into tumours.
  • Reducing the chances of cancer cells spreading through the body, by stopping cells from moving or invading neighbouring tissue.
  • Speeding up the cell’s internal ‘waste disposal machine’ – a process known as autophagy – which can lead to cell death.

All these effects are thought to be caused by cannabinoids locking onto the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. It also looks like cannabinoids can exert effects on cancer cells that don’t involve cannabinoid receptors, although it isn’t yet clear exactly what’s going on there.”

areas of brain affected by cannabinoidsFascinating stuff, but the post then states that it’s not all good news.

“some researchers have found that although high doses of THC can kill cancer cells, they also harm crucial blood vessel cells, although this may help their anti-cancer effect by preventing blood vessels growing into a tumour. And under some circumstances cannabinoids can actually encourage cancer cells to grow.

Others have discovered that activating CB2 receptors may actually interfere with the ability of the immune system to recognise and destroy tumour cells, although some scientists have found that certain synthetic cannabinoids may enhance immune defences against cancer.

Furthermore, cancer cells can develop resistance to cannabinoids and start growing again, although this can be got round by blocking a certain molecular pathway in the cells known as ALK.”

The article then goes on to say that all this is just lab work so far, and there are still far too many unanswered questions surrounding the medical application of cannabis. They then steer the conversation on to the YouTube videos of people stating that on video that cannabis has cured their cancer. We’ve all seen the videos and I agree with what Cancer Research state, basically that they are not convinced by the videos and they are emphatically NOT scientific. The type of video I’m talking about is like this one:

Cancer Cure?

So there you, yet more compelling proper research into medical cannabis. I urge you all to read the full article and make up your own minds.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this research being carried out, and maybe, just maybe, the groundswell of support will increase until finally those people in power will have no option but to decriminalise the drug and explore all the benefits that cannabis can bring us.

Cannabis to the Rescue…again!

Medical MarijuanaYet more positive scientific studies have been carried out using cannabis. The Telegraph reported over the weekend that cannabis could be used to treat obesity-related diseases. Read the full story by following this link.

So this so-called evil, destructive, and illegal plant is responsible for helping patients yet again – this time it’s those who are at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Initial animal tests have already shown scientists that levels of cholesterol in the blood stream are reduced, and so they are now progressing on to human trials – fingers crossed they get positive results from these human test subjects. Results will be later this year apparently.

When you click the link to the Telegraph article I would strongly recommend you read the comments as well – some of it is eye-opening stuff.

Cannabis vs Alcohol

As you’ve probably already gathered, I am an avid follower of cannabis and have been for a number of years now. When I was a lot younger and I embarked on my first few smokes with some friends I did do a bit of research into the effects this drug has on me.

When I say research, I mean actually asking people, or trying to find information on it in the local library. This was in the days before Tim Berners-Lee invented something called the Internet (yes, I am actually that old!). Anyway…that was all back in the 80s when I was a kid and cords and dodgy beards were in, and the closest thing to the Internet was the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum.

Now all this research is online and is readily accessible at a click of the mouse button. Fantastic! And there is some compelling research out there surrounding cannabis. The evidence I’ve found all seems to point to the fact that, compared to a lot of other banned drugs, cannabis is a relatively innocuous drug that has more benefits associated with it than dangers.

There’s a whole heap of medical research, which a quick search of Google will show. Could it help Alzheimer sufferers? This research seems to think so. Does smoking pot impair your ability to drive? This article doesn’t think so.

But all this good stuff aside, what really bugs me is the Cannabis vs Alcohol debate. One substance is a class B controlled substance in the UK and most of the world, whereas the other drug is legal, cheap and readily available pretty much everywhere. However, the illegal drug has had zero fatalities due to overdose, while the other one causes 1000s of alcohol-related deaths every year. Check these articles out for more info, it makes for very interesting reading, and this one.

My research has led me to believe that cannabis is far less harmful than Alcohol, so illegal or not I shall continue to indulge in my pot taking pastime. I’m not hurting anyone apart from myself, I’ve got a great family, I’m more than capable of holding down a good job, and I’ve got a great group of friends. So although I respect the law of the land in general, I’m afraid they have got it very wrong with this…or should we be looking at the politicians for blame?