Monday, August 30, 2010

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Pinocchio?

Good Day Readers:
This posting was inspired by the completely shocking conclusion of a study by McGill University researchers that smoking marijuana can relieve chronic pain. Prime Minister Harper didn't advance the debate when he said in a March 2010 interactive YouTube video:

Patrick Pichette: The last question that we have today was the question that was passed with the most votes, and it’s about marijuana.

Right Honourable Stephen Harper: Oh really!

Patrick Pichette: It was the question with the most votes, tackled the subject of marijuana. And it is written as follows: “A majority of Canadians, when polled, say they believe marijuana should be legal for adults, just like alcohol. Why don’t you end the war on drugs and focus on violent criminals?”

Right Honourable Stephen Harper: Well, it’s a good question. I’m not sure I’ve seen this particular poll. There are different polls on this subject that show different things, but you know, I have to say young children, I guess they’re now… Ben and Rachel are now getting pretty close to 14 and 11, but maybe they’re not that young, but they are at the age where, you know, they will increasingly come into contact with drug use, and I guess as a parent, you know, this is the last thing I want to see for my kids or anyone else’s children. You know, I understand that people defend the use of drugs, but that said, I don’t think …
I think I’ve been very fortunate to live a drug-free life, and I don’t meet many people who’ve led a drug-free life who regret it. (emphasis ours) Met a lot of people who haven’t, who’ve regretted it. So this is something that we want to encourage obviously for our children, for everybody’s children.

Now, I also want people to understand what we’re really talking about here when we’re talking about the drug trade. You know, when people say focus on violent crime instead of drugs, and yeah, you know, there’s lots of crimes a lot worse than, you know, casual use of marijuana. But when people are buying from the drug trade, they are not buying from their neighbour. They are buying from international cartels that are involved in unimaginable violence and intimidation and social disaster and catastrophe all across the world. All across the world. You know, and I just wish people would understand that, and not just on drugs. Even when people buy, you know, an illegal carton of cigarettes and they avoid tax, that they really understand the kind of criminal networks that they are supporting, and the damage they do. Now, you know, I know some people say if you just legalized it, you know, you’d get the money and all would be well. But I think that rests on the assumption that somehow drugs are bad because they’re illegal.

The reason drugs…it’s not that. The reason drugs are illegal is because they are bad. And even if these things were legalized, I can predict with a lot of confidence that these would never be respectable businesses run by respectable people. Because the very nature of the dependency they create, the damage they create, the social upheaval and catastrophe they create, particularly in third world countries…I mean, you look now, you look at Latin America, some of the countries to the south of us, and the damage the drug trade is doing, not just to people’s lives as drug users.

Look at the violence it’s creating in neighbourhoods, the destruction of social systems, of families, of governmental institutions, the corruption of police forces. I mean, these are terrible, terrible organizations, and while I know people, you know, have different views, I must admit myself sometimes I’m frustrated by how little impact governments have been able to have on the drug trade internationally. But we should not fool ourselves into thinking that if we somehow stopped trying to deal with it, it would suddenly turn into a nice, wholesome industry. It will never be that. And I think we all need to understand that, and we all need to make sure our kids understand, not just that our kids…hopefully not just understand the damage drugs can do to them, but they understand as well the wider social disaster they are contributing to if they, through use of their money, fund organizations that produce and deliver elicit narcotics.

Stephen Harper giving a smug grin after (barely) answering questions about marijuana which dominated YouTube's question/answer poll.

Surely, most would agree if marijuana were to be decriminalized it must be accompanied by checks and balances to avoid this:

Whoa cowboy couldn't you find a bigger one?

Now the truly amazing results from the McGill study which everyone has already known about for a longtime.

Sincerely/Clare L. Pieuk

________________________________________________

30 August 2010
Cannabis may relieve chronic nerve pain
Cannabis has been used to treat pain since the third millennium BC. Smoking cannabis from a pipe can significantly reduce chronic pain in patients with damaged nerves, a study suggests.

A small study of 23 people also showed improvements with sleep and anxiety.

Writing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the researchers said larger studies using inhaler-type devices for cannabis were needed.

UK experts said the pain relief seen was small but potentially important, and more investigation was warranted.

Around 1 to 2% of people have chronic neuropathic pain - pain due to problems with signalling between nerves - but effective treatments are lacking.

"To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported” - Dr Mark Ware
Study leader

Some patients with this type of chronic pain say smoking cannabis helps with their symptoms.

And researchers have been investigating whether taking cannabinoids - the chemicals within cannabis that effect pain - in pill form could have the same effect.

But the team from McGill University in Montreal said clinical trials on smoked cannabis were lacking.

Potency

The study used three different potencies of cannabis - containing 2.5%, 6% and 9.4% of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol - as well as a placebo (dummy version).

Under nurse supervision, participants inhaled a single 25mg dose through a pipe three times a day for five days followed by nine days off, for four cycles.

Those given the highest dose had significantly reduced average pain compared with the placebo as well as less anxiety and depression, and better sleep.

Study leader Dr Mark Ware said: "To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported."

He said larger more long-term studies with higher potencies of cannabis were needed to further test the findings and to better assess safety.

Clinical trials using inhaler-type devices for delivering measured amounts of cannabis should be carried out, he added.

'Encouraging'

Professor Tony Dickenson, an expert in pain medicine at University College London, said a lot of patients with this type of pain say they benefit from cannabis but there were clearly health issues associated with self-medicating in this way.

He also said the pain relief seen was quite small but could make an important difference to patients who often suffer sleeplessness and depression because of their condition.

It was also worth investigating whether inhaling the drug was a more effective way of getting it into the body than taking it orally, he added.

"It may be important in the future to find patients who respond particularly well because it may be that it is not suitable for some groups, such as older patients," he said.

"They didn't get as many patients in the trial as they wanted and it shows that this sort of research is very difficult to do."

Dr. Peter Shortland, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said: "Importantly, smoking the drug did not produce the psychoactive effects commonly associated with full strength cannabis."

He added the trial was "an encouraging step forward" but further large-scale clinical trials were warranted.

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