Old Potheads and Medical Marijuana

August 29, 2016

newz039-bunch-of-weed-hoardersOvercast and a bit on the chilly side this early Monday on California’s north coast — weather continues whether we like it or not.

Earlier this month, the DEA ruled marijuana is still a danger, and there’s “no evidence” pot has medical uses — telling the DEA to fuck off, Washington state will continue plans to allow scientific research of marijuana.
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, a former state senator: ‘“There’s been so much evidence and public acceptance, I think they should be reclassifying marijuana now, not waiting for sometime off in the future.”

Nailed it…

And as if on cue, recent research into the medical potential of marijuana includes the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. Us old folks are way-interested in this — young folks should be, too.

As the onset of Alzheimer’s becomes obvious — memory loss, decline in brain function and communication skills — the help might be late in coming — prior to old age, what’s indicated as amyloid beta proteins are fucking up the system.
Supposedly, compounds in marijuana can cleanse the brain of harmful amyloid beta cells, offering up new clues how to stop this disease early. A new study, published earlier this summer in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, points to a breakthrough.
Via NewAtlas in late July:

And now researchers at the Salk Institute have uncovered new evidence supporting another candidate, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Working with modified nerve cells engineered to produce high levels of amyloid beta, the researchers found that the presence of these proteins caused nerve cell inflammation and higher rates of neuron death.
But by exposing the cells to THC, they reduced levels of the amyloid beta proteins, which also had the effect of stopping inflammation of the nerve cells and allowing more of them to survive.

Pot compounds also aid understanding/identifying a source of brain inflammation: ‘”Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” says Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.’

The DEA move was full of shit — even physicians agree. Nathaniel P. Morris, resident physician in psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, discussed pot vs alcohol in a piece at Scientific American a couple of weeks ago:

Intoxicated patients stream into emergency departments after crashing their cars, inhaling their own vomit, or falling into a coma.
According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol-related conditions contributed to more than 1.2 million emergency department visits in 2010.
The Centers for Disease Control reports excess alcohol consumption causes roughly 88,000 deaths in the US each year.
And alcohol can be just as frightening when patients stop drinking.
Heavy drinkers who don’t consume as much as they usually do can go into alcohol withdrawal, ranging from mild tremors to terrifying seizures and death.
I’ve spent much of my residency training so far learning how to treat and recognize complications from alcohol withdrawal.

But, for most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.
We don’t see cannabis overdoses.
We don’t order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses.
We don’t treat cannabis-induced heart attacks.
In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.

In hospitals across the country, patients writhe in agony from alcohol withdrawal, turn violent from crystal meth, and struggle to breathe after overdosing on prescription opioids.
These are the cases that keep health care providers on edge.
These are the patients we follow closely.
When our pagers go off, we hurry to the bedside, give medications, alert security or even begin resuscitation.
With marijuana?
Not so much.

Morris does mention the negative side-effects of marijuana — it is an altering substance and must be considered as such.
From Boston University Research last week:

Daily marijuana users report more sleep disturbance than people who use marijuana less often or not at all, countering the perception that the drug helps to treat insomnia, according to a new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (SPH) researcher.
The study, published in January 2016 in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, found that daily marijuana users scored higher on the Insomnia Severity Index and sleep-disturbance measures than non-daily users.
Ninety-eight marijuana users, most in their early 20s, participated in the study, which is co-authored by Michael Stein, SPH chair of health law, policy, and management and the study’s principal investigator.

It can heighten anxiety, which can slaughter sleep.

And from the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago:

A massive study published this month in the Journal of Drug Issues found that the proportion of marijuana users who smoke daily has rapidly grown, and that many of those frequent users are poor and lack a high-school diploma.
Examining a decade of federal surveys of drug use conducted between 2002 and 2013, study authors Steven Davenport and Jonathan Caulkins paint one of the clearest pictures yet of the demographics of current marijuana use in the U.S.
They found that the profile of marijuana users is much closer to cigarette smokers than alcohol drinkers, and that a handful of users consume much of the marijuana used in the U.S.

“Most people who have used marijuana in the past year are in full control of their use, and are generally happy with that use,” Caulkins said in an email.
But, “consumption is highly concentrated among the smaller number of daily & near-daily users, and they tend to be less educated, less affluent, and less in control of their use.”
The median marijuana user, in other words, may be someone who indulges periodically but generally doesn’t consume a lot of it.
However, most of the marijuana consumed in the U.S. isn’t consumed by the median marijuana user, but rather by the very heavy users who smoke daily or more.
“There is a sharp contrast between what policy is best for the typical user versus what is best for the people who consume most of the marijuana,” Caulkins said.
Legalization may not change much in the life of the typical marijuana user.
But heavy users who overindulge may find it even easier to do so when marijuana is legal and cheaper to buy.

Yet there’s nothing like the carnage off alcohol, despite all the fist waving…

(Illustration found here).

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