Cannabis Has Medical Value; Medical Marijuana is a Fraud

The primary intoxicating chemical in marijuana – delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – is also the active ingredient in Marinol, approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an appetite stimulant and anti-emetic and anti-nausea medication. At the same time, the government’s drug-abuse-prevention messages stress that THC is the most dangerous element in cannabis. Contemporary pot, we are told, is a much riskier drug than the material sold thirty years ago; it has more THC, and less cannabidiol (CBD), which partially counteracts the anxiety-provoking action of THC.

But we are also told that there’s inadequate scientific evidence to show that natural cannabis has medical value.

Somehow the official spokesmen manage to ignore obvious contradiction here. If high-THC cannabis is more dangerous than low-THC cannabis, then how can it be that pure THC is a medicine while natural cannabis, with less THC and at least some CBD, is “Cheech and Chong therapy”? The real answer seems to be that pure THC, taken orally, is so unpleasant that very few people will use it voluntarily except as medically directed.

Surely if THC has medical value, and the other chemicals in natural cannabis add a safety factor, then natural cannabis must also have medical value. That point is so obvious that it can be missed only by someone whose paycheck depends on not understanding it.

But “having medical value” isn’t the same thing as “being a medicine.” A medicine is a material of known chemical composition and dosage that has been shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective in the management of some condition in some patient population. By that standard, natural cannabis can’t be a medicine, simply because natural cannabis varies so widely in its chemical content: not only from one strain to another, but from one plant to another and even from one bud to another from the same plant.

If I have an infection and go to my internist, she does not say to me, “You have an infection. I have heard reports that antibiotics can treat infections. I recommend that you take some antibiotics.” No, she writes me a prescription for (say) 100 mg. of amoxicillin, three times a day, with meals, for seven days. “Blow some weed” is not a prescription. That’s the reason that “rescheduling” cannabis to recognize its medical value is a non-starter legally; rescheduling needs to follow clinical research, and would apply only to specific products, not to the plant generically.

In fact, the vast majority of ‘patients’ buying ‘medical marijuana’ aren’t doing so under any sort of active medical supervision… Many of them aren’t ‘treating’ anything but their desire to get high…-Mark Kleiman

In fact, the vast majority of “patients” buying “medical marijuana” aren’t doing so under any sort of active medical supervision; they simply bought a recommendation from a cooperative doctor (or, in Washington State, a chiropractor, naturopath, or physician’s assistant). Many of them aren’t “treating” anything but their desire to get high or their need to feed their cannabis habit. Some of them are buying “medicine” partly to resell it, with the “dispensary” acting more or less as a wholesale dope-dealership.

So what would it take to create real medical products from cannabis?

  • Production technology to yield reproducible chemical profiles, which in practice probably means extracts rather than whole flowers.
  • Development of specific products with specific chemical content.
  • Clinical trials to verify safety and efficacy for specific conditions in specific populations.

That’s not an impossibly tall order; GW Pharmaceuticals has a genuine medical cannabis product, Sativex, an oral spray in a dosage-controlled device containing roughly equal amounts of THC and CBD, plus some of the other chemicals in natural cannabis. It’s already approved for limited indications in the UK, Canada, and Germany, and no doubt will be approved in the U.S. once the appropriate clinical trials have been done and presented to the FDA.

There’s no reason why other products couldn’t be developed and approved on the same model. That can’t, as a practical matter, be done in the United States today, because the federal government’s insistence on having a single monopoly supplier of research cannabis means that no would-be vendor of medical cannabis in the U.S. can demonstrate its capacity to produce a product under “good manufacturing practice”: that is, to make something where each dose has the same chemical content.

People who really want to make cannabis medicines ought to be arguing for freeing clinical research from its bureaucratic chains…-Mark Kleiman

People who really want to make cannabis medicines ought to be arguing for freeing clinical research from its bureaucratic chains, not pretending that taking an unknown amount of an unknown mix of chemicals is the same thing as taking a pharmaceutical drug. And as states move to legalize the sale of cannabis without a medical recommendation, the justification for having a parallel “medical marijuana” supply system disappears. Unfortunately, the people making money from running that system will fight to the bitter end against any threat to their business, and do so in the name of “protecting patients.” Those battles are already being fought in Colorado and Washington.

Now that “medical marijuana” has served – as the advocates intended – to legitimize non-medical legalization, perhaps it’s time to drop the mask and have that debate on its own merits.

Let’s move ahead with genuinely medical cannabis products, and stop using “medicating” as a euphemism for getting wasted.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rehabs.com. We do believe in healthy dialogue on all topics and we welcome the opinions of our professional contributors.

What Are Your Thoughts on this Topic?

  • legalizepotusa

    It is a herbal medicine that has been one of the 50 fundamental medicinals of the Chinese apothocary for nearly 5000 years. Cannabis was also listed in the US Pharmacopiea from 1850 until 1942, 5 years after pot prohibition began. The reason it was still there 5 yrs after prohibition started is the AMA opposed its removal because it is safe effective medicine.

    • Bongstar420

      Lets keep it 100 here:

      “Traces of coca have been found in mummies dating 3000 years back.[25] Other evidence dates the communal chewing of coca with lime 8000 years back.[26]”

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      “Cultivation of opium poppies for food, anaesthesia, and ritual purposes dates back to at least the Neolithic Age (new stone age).”

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Opium is definitely effective for pain and yet no whining about how severely debilitated people are coerced into taking “pharmaceuticals.”

      Manufacturing your own Morphine is safer than manufacturing your own hash oil. You can’t blow up making Morphine.

  • Ars Skeptica

    Interesting that the author, after moving goalposts around like they’re on wheels, tries to shore up his argument by pointing out the profit motive of those who would have the system be other than as he’d have it, especially as his piece appears on a website that helps those seeking information to locate the right rehabilitation facility for them or a loved one. Unless they’re giving out free services, I’d suggest he’s absolutely correct. Those making money will fight to protect their business to the bitter end.

    Considering that the website exists, at least in part, to help drive business, I find this as garish a predation on the consumer public as funeral homes that try to upsell their clientele on more luxurious, over-priced coffins when the clientele is likely at a diminished capacity for making reasoned purchasing decisions.

    • Bongstar420

      So we should sell Fentanyl for muscle aches I guess?

      Right?

      Or does low toxicity relinquish the patient of responsibility to distinguish between medicine and not?

  • NutmegJunkie

    ‘Medical marijuana’ has emerged because the government refuses to acknowledge that cannabis has therapeutic value. Every man and his dog knows the DEA and FDA are lying about the medical utility of cannabis but they refuse to budge on the issue. What else are citizens meant to do other than take matters into their own hands?

    Medical marijuana is not a ‘fraud’. It’s a logical (yet imperfect) response by the people to a decades long government lie. And it’s a big lie indeed.

    • Bongstar420

      A vacation to Tahiti has therapeutic value.

      Are you going to subsidize my therapy for me or what?

      I am severely debilitated no matter what a doctor says..

      When they are doin stuff thats not fun, then I won’t question their motives.

  • http://www.no2pot.org/ T. Miller

    Great article. I hope more people attempt to educate the public on the realities and truth about pot. Smoked pot being called a medicine is one of the biggest scams of our nation. The mental and physical health risks, increased fatal accidents, increased youth useage, increased ER visits…. in addition to all the other data from Colorado when pot was legalized as a medicine far outweigh any potential benefits (all of which are found in Rx cannabis). #no2pot

    • mike

      link to washingtonpost.com

      link to usnews.com

      The true scam is prohibition. Over a trillion dollars down the drain with no tangible benefits.

      “Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy … and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’ … fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. … The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.” – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983

      • Bongstar420

        No..both are scams. Neither campaign keeps it 100

    • creator42

      One assumes that pure THC capsules also cause “mental and physical health risks, increased fatal accidents, increased youth useage [and] increased ER visits.” Is Marinol medicine? According to Kleiman, it is, because it has been approved by the FDA.

      According to the Institute of Medicine, the benefit-risk profile of cannabis compares favorably with most prescription drugs.

      So, according to Kleiman, what makes a substance a “medicine” is not that it has no adverse health consequences, but rather, that it has been approved by the FDA. This definition of “medicine” seems to be distinct to Kleiman. He isn’t clear on whether or not dietary supplements and therapeutic herbs that have not been prohibited by the FDA, and have been used by millions of satisfied patients for thousands of years as medicine are “medicine.”

      Cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes in Canada because a man named
      Terry Parker and his doctors convinced the courts that Mr. Parker had
      tried every alternative, including brain surgery and THC pills, but
      nothing controlled his epileptic seizures as well as whole cannabis.
      The state attempted to prove the contrary and failed. Granted, Sativex was not available at the time.

      • Bongstar420

        Marinol is not considered particularly effective by “patients”

        Most likely because its from pharma and is FDA approved

        • http://drugsense.org/me/ Matthew Elrod

          More likely because Marinol lacks the other cannabinoids, especially CBD, and the terpenoids and flavonoids. Patients report that Marinol is difficult to titrate and makes them too high and anxious.

    • http://disqus.com/notspicoli/ notSpicoli

      Prohibition is a failed policy that has failed to even approach meeting its proposed goals. The truth about marijuana and prohibition is clear, prohibition is far more harmful.

      The majority are not voting to legalize because they think marijuana is so good or harmless. It’s that prohibition is such an extravagant, extensive, and unsuccessful response in view of the actual harms of marijuana–which you have greatly exaggerated and skewed.

      We’re going to try legalization, taxation, and regulation and see if that works better. So far, despite your assertions, it is.

      • Bongstar420

        Her statement has nothing to do with prohibition or legalization per se..its about the legitimate application of the word “medicine” and how it relates to that those issues.

        Basically, you shouldn’t lie to get your liberty

    • Keith McAdam

      “The mental and physical health risks, increased fatal accidents, increased youth useage, increased ER visits…. in addition to all the other data from Colorado when pot was legalized as a medicine far outweigh any potential benefits”
      I would like to see data on these claims, as all the research I’ve read (particularly regarding usage by adolescents) seems to contradict your assertions.

      • Bongstar420

        You could say the same thing about not going to church and not eating your broccoli..

        Also, I don’t see how the benefits of rock climbing outweigh the potential drawbacks.

        “The mental and physical health risks, increased fatal accidents, increased youth useage, increased ER visits…. in addition”

        I’d argue that is caused by ignorant people that aren’t educated on drug use.

        Hey, lets go play foot ball..Thats a good, healthy activity. Douches

        • csw

          I’d be willing to bet that there are more yearly deaths attributed to rock climbing than to pot use….

  • disqus_oisEN2ZrAH

    What is the word WAR a euphemism for!?

  • creator42

    “Medicine: A compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease, especially a drug or drugs taken by mouth.” – Oxford English Dictionary.

    Therapeutic herbs, that are available in non-standardized dosages, are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA. In Canada, they are referred to as “Natural Health Products.” Under the DSHEA, the burden of proof is reversed. Before prohibiting a dietary supplement, health authorities must prove that it is exceptionally harmful. Suppliers are not required to prove that they are safe and efficacious.

    According to the Office of Natural Health Products, the evidence in support of NHPs need “not be limited to double blind clinical trials but [may] also include other types of evidence such as generally accepted and traditional references, professional consensus, other types of clinical trials and other clinical or scientific evidence … depending on the type of claim being made, with different evidence being required for structure-function claims and risk-reduction claims for minor self-limiting conditions than for therapeutic or treatment claims.”

    This because the Standing Committee on Health recognized that whole herbs can not be standardized and may contain more than one therapeutic agent in varying proportions. Cannabis is not a new single-compound chemical entity — which is what pharmaceutical trials are designed to address.

    Meanwhile, dozens of drugs that have gone through clinical trials are recalled every year after adverse effects and drug-interactions are discovered and/or they are found to be no better than a placebo post-approval. Dozens more are prescribed “off label” for populations and for conditions for which they have not been tested.

    Most of the cannabis consumers that you claim just want to get high or feed their habit are self-medicating psychological and emotional problems such as ADHD, PTSD and anxiety that they might otherwise treat with tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceuticals. Are anti-depressants “medicine?”

    A doctor or naturopath might recommend that you get more exercise, or eat more fruits and vegetables, or cut down on junk food, without being specific. They might also recommend that you incorporate specific herbs and dietary supplements into your diet without specifying a dose or a brand, especially if it is physically impossible to fatally overdose on the supplement and the supplement can be safely self-titrated, like coffee. It is still medical advice, and herbs such as cannabis are still used medicinally, regardless of clinical research and medical supervision.

    • Bongstar420

      And its illegal to make health claims without the studies…and yet the pot community likes to call it a “cure all”

      they are morons btw.

  • Dianna Donnelly

    If I choose to medicate with Oxycontin, and I most definitely will feel wasted, is it medicating or just getting wasted?

    • Bongstar420

      It is “medicating” if you only take enough for reliving the condition and take it for no other reason.

      Pot smokers take pot for numerous reasons other than “relief of their specific medical condition”

      Its similar to the way fat people “need” food…obviously fat people consume outside of “necessity”

      • Dianna Donnelly

        sure. Whatever you say. Thing is, this is my body not yours. So I get to choose how to medicate it.

        Cheers.

  • davids64

    Author says “rescheduling needs to follow clinical research.”

    Well, that’s true. Unfortunately, in the USA, the “drug-warriors” and prohibitionists, not to mention the the police-prison-industrial-complex, who all have an economic stake in making sure that cannabis remains illegal, have used their political clout to make it virtually IMPOSSIBLE to do any clinical research into the efficacy of THC. Which makes the author’s complaint in this regard seem quite petty and anti-science!

    • Bongstar420

      Cannabis must be exempt from the CSA if there is to be non-medical use…

      Can you get any schedule 4 drug for rec use?

      If cannabis is exempt from CSA, no health claims can be made for it that are not mandates from the FDA or state health authority (think tobacco and alcohol warnings). Or are they still doling out ethanol prescriptions for depression like they did during alcohol prohibition?

    • thirdalbum

      Dude, the article mentions two FDA-approved medicines using cannabis-derived compounds. It’s obviously not “virtually IMPOSSIBLE” if clinical trials have been done and actual medicines have been produced.

  • http://dilan.blogspot.com Dilan Esper

    Once we have recreational marijuana legal in all 50 states, US withdrawal from or amendment of the single convention on narcotics, and a repeal of the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act relating to marijuana, then I would say that Professor Kleiman’s proposal would make perfect sense. I totally agree with him that while there are medical uses of marijuana, the medical marijuana movement has just been a cover for legalization.

    But that’s still needed at this point. The medical marijuana movement commits a tiny sin– pretending that getting stoned is really about medical treatment– to alleviate the effects of a gigantic sin– the War on Drugs and its attendant racism, discrimination against poor people, and general paternalism and restriction on individual freedom.

    As between legalized recreational use and commercial sale, and Potemkin medical marijuana, I agree, the former is superior. But in most of America, the choice is still between Potemkin medical marijuana and tyranny.

    • Bongstar420

      Yes…this is how conservatism causes corruption

    • thirdalbum

      Oh my god, I never realised that “prohibiting a substance that is easily abused, has little-to-no medical value without extensive processing and is responsible for 50% of schizophrenia cases” is actual TYRANNY!

      I also never realised that the war on drugs was discrimination against poor people. Probably because that’s total pothead nonsense.

      /r/HarmReductionExperts

      • http://dilan.blogspot.com Dilan Esper

        Oh my god, I never realised that “prohibiting a substance that is easily abused, has little-to-no medical value without extensive processing and is responsible for 50% of schizophrenia cases” is actual TYRANNY!

        Well, you might never of realized that because those are lies. Marijuana isn’t “easily abused”, because it’s simply a fun recreational substance. That’s like saying shopping is easily abused, or tanning, or doing a number of other things that might cause some problems if you do too much of it but are fun if you don’t.

        I doubt marijuana has little to know medical value without extensive processing. There’s plenty of evidence that people are able to smoke it or vaporize it as a treatment for various ailments. But that’s not why it is “processed”. It is “processed” to take the fun out of it– i.e., they don’t want people to actually ENJOY their medicine. But that’s just puritanism– i.e., taking offense that someone out there might be having a good time. Why shouldn’t people be able to take the most fun version of a medication possible.

        50 percent of schizophrenia cases is completely made up.

        And no, marijuana regulation is not tyranny. But it is, as I said, puritanism. It’s the regulation of something because people distrust fun. People think suffering and discipline are ennobling, so they try to prevent people from doing things they enjoy.

        And puritanism is a very bad way of governing. Everyone has the right to take risks in the name of fun. Should we ban bungee jumping or base jumping? Downhill skiing? Waterskiing? How about banning boating altogether– unlike marijuana, boating actually kills people? Let’s ban sex without the government’s permission– you might spread disease after all. Bring back Prohibition, of course.

        You have no right to stop other people from taking risks to have fun that you don’t approve of. And that’s why marijuana regulation is so bad.

  • creator42

    “pretending that taking an unknown amount of an unknown mix of chemicals is the same thing as taking a pharmaceutical drug.”

    Who does that? Consuming a therapeutic herb involves taking an unspecified amount of a mix of chemicals, more like drinking coffee or eating food than taking a monomolecular pharmaceutical drug.

    Due to widely variable absorption rates and endocannabinoid systems, Marinol and Sativex are not more precise. Happily, smoking and vaporization makes titration much easier.

    • Bongstar420

      Herbs from the health food store are not legally “medicines” unless the FDA approves a specific thing for a specific reason.

      Would your patients accept something that is more effective for their medical conditions that has no recreational value at all? My patients generally aren’t interested in it if it diminishes the high or resale value of the product. And they definitely do not want to pay for it but they do want you to do as much of the work for them as possible.

  • creator42

    “And as states move to legalize the sale of cannabis without a medical recommendation, the justification for having a parallel “medical marijuana” supply system disappears.”

    Except that some dispensaries offer advice on strains, dosages and methods of ingestion for treating specific ailments, in addition to other health-related services. Surely those who do should be qualified and regulated, yes?

    • Bongstar420

      None of those people have training in pharmacy….I seriously doubt actual medical training would allow them to accomplish their goal-profit from selling “medicine.”

      All the medical research on cannabinoids that I have seen established far lower dosage regimes than the patients them selves…patients usually do an economic calculation and estimate their fair share of the game. Thats not how medicine is conducted.

  • http://organicandsustainablegardening.yolasite.com/ Paulpot

    There was a trial done by the human race.
    It has lasted at least ten thousand yrs so far and so far no-one has yet died from cannabis consumption.
    To unwind at the end of a hard day is a medical use.
    It is so safe that no condition is above using cannabis as a treatment.
    This is the point.
    Cannabis is totally safe and has an incredibly long history to prove it.
    There is no reason to prevent people from producing there own medication in there own gardens other that police state fascist control.

    • Bongstar420

      Its mostly safe on its own, certainly as safe as wheat if you can keep your impairment in check..it can be dangerous mixing with other drugs however

  • Stan D. Freeman

    For a guy who is fond of citing self-reported NSDUH survey results as scientific fact to bolster his claim that millions upon millions of cannabis consumers “meet diagnostic criteria” for substance use disorders, I find it interesting that the author seems to be claiming that the 92% of medical marijuana patients who self-report that “medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of their serious medical conditions” in a recent survey are participating in some kind of conspiracy to commit fraud.

  • http://thehealingclinic.org/ Feliza Castro

    The prohibition of cannabis is a fraud. There are so many FDA approved drugs that leave people addicted, strung out and in many cases dead due to overdose. Cannabis is a safe and effective medicine that people should have the right to grow, sell and use. Mr. Kleiman, the day may very well come when you or someone you love will need medical cannabis. Perhaps then you will understand why these businesses fight hard to protect their privilege of giving suffering people access to an ancient herbal remedy that should have never been outlawed in the first place.

    • Bongstar420

      Actually the Controlled Substances Act is Unconstitutional. The toxicity of a drug doesn’t make the ban “legitimate”

      So, I’d say your being a little narrow minded here. Cherry picking, or just not familiar with Constitutional law and drug prohibition?

  • Duffy Johnson

    Pot should be legal, no question. But calling it “medicine” is disingenuous to say the least.

    • Bongstar420

      Morphine is “medicine”

      so is Cocaine

      Extacy is too…it can help certain psychological conditions under certain conditions…but in no way can you just give it to a commoner and expect “medical efficacy” to predominate their decision processes.

  • Gary Turner

    Three weeks ago JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) wrote an article titled “Medical Marijuana” it says marijuana is a medicine for ms.

    “Use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis is supported by high-quality evidence. Six trials that included 325 patients
    examined chronic pain, 6 trials that included 396 patients investigated
    neuropathic pain, and 12 trials that included 1600 patients focused on multiple
    sclerosis. Several of these trials had positive results, suggesting that
    marijuana or cannabinoids may be efficacious for these indications.”

    And concludes

    “Physicians should educate patients about medical marijuana to ensure that it is used
    appropriately and that patients will benefit from its use.”

    I use thirteen manmade chemicals for the neuropathic pain, sleepless
    nights, muscle spasms and migraine headaches that don’t work. Thirteen
    medicines insurance pays $6,000 to $7,000 a month all with side effects. My
    doctors tells me there’s nothing more they can give me for my symptoms. The
    only medicine left, my doctors can’t prescribe me,
    If natural medicine works I could possibly quit 5 or 6
    medications saving around $1,000 a month. I’m one out of approximately 350,000
    people with ms in the United States, many of us disabled on Medicare or
    Medicaid. If 45% are in the same position as me that’s $14,000,000 a month or $168,000,000
    a year saved by not taking these worthless pills, nationwide.

    Why shouldn’t my doctors’ be able to write a prescription
    saying “I have MS” so I won’t have to worry about arrest trying what JAMA,
    scientist and physicians call medicine, but my state won’t?

    • Bongstar420

      Maybe the problem is that your insurance won’t pay $6,000 a month for your pot habit.
      Do your other medications get you high and have high resale value to recreational consumers?

      I doubt it.

      Your doctor needs to administer the doses to get the insurance companies comfortable with footing your bill..No pot grower has a deal with the insurance companies, so you get Vicodin in stead.

      • Gary Turner

        I’m not asking anyone to take care of a thing. I would save $$$ by growing my own. I don’t know if you know anything about ms but one of my meds cost $5500 that’s to slow progression. The rest of that money is as much as I can take to try to live comfortably. I take the maximum dosages allowed. The rest three muscle relaxers I take every 4 hours, nerve relaxers, migraine meds…

      • Winny Bourne

        “Do your other medications get you high and have high resale value to recreational consumers?

        I doubt it.”

        Oxy, percs, fentanyl. There’s just a few. You don’t know what your talking about.

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    • Bongstar420

      Felons…OK.

      I will do that when the CSA is fixed. Till then, all interstate commerce with pot is 100% illegal