Is this about cannabis, about health or about personal freedom?

Is this about cannabis, about health or about personal freedom?

There seems to be some motion in terms of legislative changes regarding cannabis. Good news… or not, we will have to wait and see how it turns out. The prohibition crowd seems keen to accept a new drug in their “good drugs” group. Sounds like something to be glad about, but it might turn into a disaster. Not only for the movement against prohibition. We might be facing a huge mistake that could affect the medicine and public health areas. 

When cannabis is mentioned as the only drug that deserves to be legalized (again), that’s the same old obtuse and stubborn prohibition mentality, the one that claims that we should only be allowed to consume certain drugs, randomly chosen.

What is the difference between the prohibitionist that tolerates alcohol but not cannabis or other drugs, and the prohibitionist that fights for cannabis regulation and proudly shows their ignorance claiming no other drug should be legalized? At least the classic prohibitionist knows alcohol and tobacco are not medicinal. Oh, wait, I’m forgetting those who still claim wine is healthy…

A movement desperate to achieve a pseudo regulation of cannabis under the premise of so called medical treatments represents a huge mistake. A mistake from the perspective of those of us who challenge all prohibition, but also for those patients who could benefit from the medicinal use of the active principles present in cannabis.

We live in the XXI Century and our living conditions our health conditions and our life expectancy are not the same as in centuries XIX or XX. And that change is not due precisely to medicinal plants. The constant development, the improvement of our knowledge and technology has achieved such goals as purifying water or building pipes for the sewage. Such things as eradicating smallpox with a global vaccination campaign. Today, someone suffering from diabetes can inject themselves an accurate dose of insulin (fast, slow, or even combined) without any risk of contracting illnesses or suffering an anaphylactic shock due to pork insulin. Thanks to DNA recombining technology, it’s human insulin that is used these days.

The list of achievements is so long that, if we think about it for a second, it seems a bit stupid to relegalize a drug in its “plant for medical use” format. It’s 2017, personalized medicine is around the corner, and at the same time certain lobbies want us to start using a plant as a medicine. That means using a group of hundreds (I’m probably falling short here) of active principles, instead of using precisely the one principle qualified and quantified and in its best administration format.

No, it’s not better to use a plant. A plant is a lab full of active ingredients (a chemical molecule soup) and we can never be sure of what and how much of it we are using. This might sound like silly but it’s not a minor thing. Imagine using D.Iannata instead of exactly 0,25mg of digoxin for a heart failure.

Yes, we could produce cannabis systematically with its content standardized in a few active principles. Even then, we would be very far from knowing exactly the concentration of each principle, and we would have absolutely no idea about those ones not titrated in the standardization. We could open retail stores, like pharmacies or tobacconists or new kinds of shops. Proposals are accepted. But serious ones, don’t hide the narcos in a so-called club.

On the other hand, cannabis can easily be grown by anybody legally in their homes. How many varieties of cannabis in terms of relation of THC/CBD are there, not to mention the rest of active principles of the plant? Countless, I think. Have you thought about it for a second? I have, I see it every day. The classic neighbour who offers diagnose and prescribes drugs to their whole family and the whole building. And when something goes wrong, blame the doctor, of course.

“The doctor told you to use cannabis? No problem: here’s a seed I’ve got. Or ask the neighbour, he plants a destroyer sativa, let’s see what happens”. It is madness.

I don’t deny that the plant is notably safe for recreational use. And I’m not denying its medical worth. But how safe and efficient is it? I have my doubts. Its potential as a source of new and promising drugs for different illnesses is undeniable. But let’s be serious. A patient, even if he or she has never paid contribution in their lives, has the right in Spain to receive the best medical attention possible. And of course, there are millions of anecdotes contradicting this: insufficient means, stockouts, waiting lists, etc…) That means that someone who needs THC, or could benefit from the active principles of cannabis, should have the right to be looked after by qualified trained staff (with a university degree of a health specialty) and have access to safe and efficient drugs. Running a Cannabis Club does not qualify anybody to be a medical advisor. And a plant is not a medicine.

Relegalize all drugs, ALL of them, but for the right reasons. Leave the medical treatments to qualified doctors, and the production of drugs to the industry that has been approved and can meet the requirements of quality and safety needed. We have not come this far to go back now, back to the times in which plants were used to benefit from the molecules in an approximate way.

“Pain can’t wait”… What a sentence! Thank Goodness we have got analgesics, anti-inflammatories and other medicines to treat pain in the best way possible according to science. I don’t doubt that some active ingredients of cannabis can relieve some kind of pain but, first, we need a law change, and afterwards lots of research as well as great investments, to come up with drugs  -true ones- and not pretend to be witches handing out plants and home recipes.

Let’s not be clumsy and legalize it for medical purposes. Let’s do it for an obvious, evident reason: our freedom of choice as conscious, well-informed beings. An adult person does not deserve to be treated as an ignorant kid or a mentally disabled person, not capable of making their own decisions. The patronizing attitude we suffer regarding our own bodies has gone too far.

And don’t tell me that allowing the recreational or hedonistic use of drugs will come with social or health expenses. Or at least, don’t tell me that story without the necessary data to compare what creates more spending: a legal market -where we know what we are facing- or the current mess in which we are trapped. Make a drug illegal even though we know it and are ready to deal with it; and the next day we will find a new, totally unpredictable new monster in the market. And so forth: see all the MDMA derivates for instance, all of them much more dangerous than a drug acceptably safe like extasy. Or the terrible synthetic cannabinoids -agonists of anandamide receptors-, all of them enormously more dangerous than cannabis, and in many cases mortal or capable of causing terrible injuries.

Another example, the case morphine/opium. Is opium used in 2017 to treat pain? I think the medical use of opium as painkiller has been totally banished in any medical forum. Now pure morphine presentations are available, perfectly quantified so we will know exactly how much we are actually using. Sure, this comparison is not completely transposable: in the case of opium, not knowing exactly the amount of morphine you are using can lead you to a potentially fatal overdose. Even so, morphine is “legal”, and it is a medicine declared indispensable by the World Health Organization. But in the case of THC not the same thing happens: a case of toxicity from the plant that has caused organic injuries is unheard of, let alone the non-existing “death from cannabis”.

Let’s relegalize, but let’s do it consistently. And once cannabis is legal again, let’s investigate its active principles, its medical uses, its effective doses, the adverse reactions, its interactions: let’s make safe and efficient drugs, not a bungle.


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