Call for doctors, policy makers to resist dagga lobby
Doctors For Life International is appalled by the pseudo science that seemingly makes it possible for even children to use dagga for medical conditions. More than 50 children in the US state of Oregon alone, are “medical dagga (marijuana)” cardholders, according to a recent report by ‘The Oregonian’s’, Noelle Crombie.
Yet one of the most condemning facts regarding the legalisation of dagga is the relationship between schizophrenia and dagga use, which has become dominant in medical literature over the past few years. A recent expert meta-analysis survey of the evidence published by different scientists in different countries state that research “has consistently found that cannabis use is associated with schizophrenia outcomes later in life” (1).
One of the children with a “medical marijuana card” is Mykayla Comstock, a 7-year-old with leukaemia, whose mother and her boyfriend (both long time dagga smokers) feed Mykayla cannabis oil and food laced with dagga. Mykayla has consumed as much as 1.2 grams of cannabis oil in a day, the equivalent of smoking 10 joints. “She was stoned out of her mind,” said Mykayla’s biological father, Jesse Comstock, after visiting her in August. After noticing the strange behaviour in Mykayla, Comstock took her to get examined at a private lab where technicians detected THC levels as high as those of an adult daily user of cannabis. One wonders what her future will be like.
Significant drop in IQ
A New Zealand study led by an international team found that those who started using cannabis before the age of 18 – during the development of their brains – suffered a significant drop in IQ. This effect could be irreversible and the more that people smoked, the greater the loss in IQ (2). In another study using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Australian scientists verified that persistent heavy marijuana use damages the brain’s memory and learning capacity. The earlier people abused cannabis, the greater the damage (3).
Apart from schizophrenia, the following other mental disorders are also known to be strongly associated with cannabis use in that use may cause the mental disorder, precipitate a latent mental illness, or severely exacerbate an existing illness/disorder: Delirium (acute confusional states), cannabis psychosis, other psychoses, anxiety disorders, depersonalization syndrome, depression, suicide and impulsive violent behavior.
It is therefore not surprising that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) said in June 2012, that it is concerned about the negative impact of marijuana being decriminalised in some states for so-called medical reasons, on the youth. “Adolescents are especially vulnerable to the many adverse developmental, cognitive, medical, psychiatric, and addictive effects of marijuana”, the statement said. “Of particular concern to our field, adolescent marijuana users are more likely than adult users to develop marijuana dependence, and their heavy use is associated with increased incidence and worsened course of psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, marijuana’s deleterious effects on cognition and brain development during adolescence may have lasting implications. The “medicalisation” of smoked marijuana has distorted the perception of the known risks and purported benefits of this drug. Since certain states began permitting the dispensing of medical marijuana, adolescents’ perceptions of the harmful effects of marijuana have decreased and marijuana use has increased significantly.“ (4)
Medicine by popular vote
It is important to understand that legislative actions giving access to marijuana, seriously jeopardise consumer protection. Generally, processes or policies for bringing medicines to the public have been established so that science, not emotion, prevails. Medicine needs to come through the medicine control boards of countries to assure safety and efficacy. More importantly, the recent legislative initiatives in some countries to legalise cannabis tend to create medicine by popular vote. Cannabis is not a safe drug and is far from having been demonstrated to be effective. There is no advantage, and indeed there is a disadvantage, to smoking marijuana rather than other available medications. Allowing such legislation to become law is riding a wave of emotion and mob psychology that has been carefully crafted, financed, and driven by the cannabis lobby. They have declared that the medical excuse of cannabis is the battlefield to gain the overall legalization of pot, as seen in Colorado and Washington State. The advocates’ strategy remains the same; play to emotion, overstate the benefits of marijuana, use the medical excuse to get the camel’s nose under the tent and then push for more legal access to pot.
Cannabis advocates allege benefits of marijuana use with little or no clear scientific basis. Neither cannabis nor pure THC has ever been compared to the new anti-nausea medications which are extremely effective. Cannabis can actually enhance pain because of a very narrow therapeutic window. The progression of glaucoma is not slowed, and ophthalmologists do not consider it a reasonable treatment. Cannabinoids may reduce muscle spasm, but they damage gait in Multiple Sclerosis patients. While cannabinoids stimulate appetite, they appear to increase body fat rather than lean body mass. No credible evidence exists that marijuana is beneficial for depression, drug abuse, headaches, or menstrual cramps. Time and again we find that most frequent medical excuse users are young people manipulating the system by complaining of pain syndromes that are usually seen in much older patients
Supporting medical excuse of cannabis either reflects serious ignorance of the medical literature, or a malignant misrepresentation of it. Medicine and policy makers must stop this circus of medicine by popular vote which is dangerous, and which plays into the pot of the legalisation lobby.
(1) “Cannabis use in young people: the risk for schizophrenia” Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Aug;35(8):1779-87. Epub 2011 Apr 16. Casadio P, Fernandes C, Murray RM, Di Forti M.
(2) Puplished in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(3) MCRI, Melbourne University and Wollongong University. Lead researcher Dr. Marc Seal, from Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Published by Medicaldaily.com http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/11417/20120809/marijuana-brain-damage-memory-learning-drug-habit-addiction.htm
(4) AACAP Medical Marijuana Policy Statement, June 11, 2012