1. Marijuana contains hundreds of compounds/chemicals.
2. Marijuana is stronger today and therefore more dangerous.
3. If used as a plant the dosage cannot be controlled.
4. Marijuana is dangerous because it is smoked.
5. Marijuana destroys the immune system.
6. Marijuana is highly addictive.
7. Marijuana is a gateway drug.
8. Marijuana use during pregnancy will cause fetal problems.
9. A legal, marijuana pill is already available.
10.The medical use of marijuana sends a message to teens that it is not a dangerous drug and may therefore encourage use by teens.
2. Marijuana is stronger today and therefore more dangerous. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), more commonly referred to as THC, is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. The percentage of THC in the marijuana is measured to determine the potency. THC levels may range from < 0.1% in non-psychoactive hemp-type cannabis (grown for its fiber), to over 10% in extremely potent cannabis (sinsemilla) . The female plants are separated from the males to prevent fertilization so that the energy of the female plant will develop the flower and resin rather than the seed. The THC content is higher in the flower and resin. The marijuana has not become stronger, but rather the growers have learned how to grow the plant to yield sinsemilla rather than fertilized (seed producing) plants often yielding only 1% to 2% THC. Cannabis has an extremely wide margin of safety. In fact, prior to cannabis prohibition a 1915 Eli Lilly label for Tincture of Cannabis illustrates the lack of concern regarding toxicity by stating, “Dose, 10 minims, increased till its effects are experienced.” There has never been a recorded overdose from cannabis. One would have to smoke 1500 pounds in 15 minutes to cause a lethal dose (Petro, 1997).
3. If used as a plant the dosage cannot be controlled. Prior to the marijuana prohibition when pharmaceutical companies created extracts and tinctures of cannabis, they were able to provide fairly uniform preparations. The government-grown marijuana, under crop management, provides a relatively consistent supply that is processed into a cigarette form for the patients. Research is being conducted in The Netherlands and Great Britain to develop different strains of marijuana with varying amounts of some of the primary cannabinoids to determine if different combinations can provide more specific symptom relief. For example, cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, appears to be more efficacious in decreasing spasticity and therefore a hybrid with a greater amount of CBD may be preferred for patients with multiple sclerosis. Some patients will be more comfortable taking this medicine in its natural state, while others may prefer a pure extract of a particular chemical.
4. Marijuana is dangerous because it is smoked. Historically, cannabis has been used therapeutically in tinctures, extracts, teas, salves, poultices, and even as suppositories. In Jamaica a cannabis ophthalmic solution called CanasolÒ has been developed for glaucoma patients. The cannabinoids are fat-soluble compounds that present a technical problem (how to quickly enter the human physiological system) for alternative delivery systems. Research is being conducted to develop aerosol or other safer inhaling devices for medication delivery. Although smoking may present potential pulmonary risks, smoking marijuana is the most efficient delivery system at this time. Because the effects are experienced very shortly after inhalation, the patient is able to titrate the amount needed. This route is especially helpful when used to ease nausea and vomiting. A higher potency of marijuana will also allow patients to smoke less to achieve a therapeutic dose without the risk of overdose. GW Pharmaceuticals, a British pharmaceutical company, has developed an oral mucosal cannabis spray (Sativex®), that is rapidly absorbed through the oral mucosa and has proven an effective medication in clinical trials with multiple sclerosis patients. The American Cancer Society has provided grant funding to Audra Stinchcomb, PhD, from the University of Kentucky who is in the process of developing a cannabinoid-based dermal patch.
5. Marijuana destroys the immune system. Research studies siting toxic effects from marijuana on the immune system have been based on extremely high doses of THC given to animals. There is no conclusive evidence that demonstrates harm to the immune system when used in therapeutic doses for humans. To the contrary, the use of cannabis provides AIDS patients with a strong appetite, enabling them to eat a balanced diet to help nourish their immune system.
6. Marijuana is highly addictive. While many persons do use marijuana in a social or recreational manner, there are occasions in which persons become dependent (psychologically) upon it and may need help. Compared to other commonly used psychoactive drugs, marijuana is not highly addictive and has a low abuse potential. (See drug comparison chart.) The Institute of Medicine conducted an 18-month study on the therapeutic potential of cannabis, Marijuana and Medicine: Understanding the Science Base (1999), and concluded that cannabis is not highly addictive. When used as a medicine, marijuana is much less addictive than many of the controlled drugs already available and does not present an undue risk to the patient. top
7. Marijuana is a gateway drug. Based on scientific review of this myth, the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine finds that, “There is no evidence that marijuana serves as a stepping stone on the basis of its particular drug effect.” The report further states, “Instead it is the legal status of marijuana that makes it a gateway drug.” (Because marijuana is illegal, a user must go through an illegal market to obtain the drug.)
8. Marijuana use during pregnancy will cause fetal problems. As a general rule, any medication/drug should be used with great caution during pregnancy because of the potential risk to the fetus. The mothers’ use of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, or lack of prenatal care has confounded most U.S. studies on the use of marijuana during pregnancy. Studies by Melanie Dreher, PhD, RN conducted in Jamaica and Dr. Peter Fried in Canada show minimal effects on the fetus during pregnancy. Both researchers have continued to follow the infants through longitudinal studies and found no significant developmental problems. Fried did report a poorer score on an “executive functioning” skill in children ages 9 to 12 years of age, but even Dr. Fried has questioned the significance of this measurement.
9. A legal, marijuana pill is already available. MarinolÒ is a synthetic form of THC, the pure psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Pure THC appears to cause more dysphoria than the combination of cannabinoids found in the natural plant. Research is showing that other cannabinoids or combinations of cannabinoids show more therapeutic potential than THC alone. Some patients have found Marinol® helpful, but many complain of the dysphoria and the inability to regulate a therapeutic dose. In July of 1999 Marinol® was lowered from Schedule II to the Schedule III class of controlled substances based on its safety, which now allows use for off-label (other than FDA approved) indications. top
10. The medical use of marijuana sends a message to teens that it is not a dangerous drug and may therefore encourage use by teens. Lying to children and teenagers about a drug sends a more troublesome message. Hopefully children are taught that all drugs and medicines present risks and medicine should only be taken under parental/medical supervision when they are sick. Reports from teens have indicated that it is easier for them to obtain illegal marijuana than it is to obtain regulated alcohol or prescription drugs.