Sunday, September 06, 2015

Sides' take on cannabis: the inside dope

Responding to the previous post on marijuana, "Paddington" directs us to an article in the June issue of National Geographic, and "Cherrypie" has kindly emailed me the link.

The writer, Hampton Sides, emphasizes the fun and funniness of smoking the weed: "good for shoe-gazing" said The Stoner, lifting one of his ready-to-wear phrases. Yet if you read carefully, there are warnings in the piece. It includes an interview by Hampton Sides with Israeli professor and cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam, said to be the holder of "about 25 patents.*"

"... he’s not particularly in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. He doesn’t think anyone should go to jail for possessing it, but he insists that marijuana is “not an innocuous substance”—especially for young people. He cites studies showing that the prolonged use of high-THC strains of marijuana can change the way the developing brain grows. He notes that in some people cannabis can provoke serious and debilitating anxiety attacks. And he points to studies that suggest cannabis may trigger the onset of schizophrenia among those who have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

If he had his way, what Mechoulam regards as the often irresponsible silliness of recreational pot culture would give way to an earnest and enthusiastic embrace of cannabis—but only as a medical substance to be strictly regulated and relentlessly researched."

Sides slaps a little verbal salve on sore news. So not in favour becomes "not particularly" in favour, and when Mechoulam reveals that he has never smoked it himself, Sides adds a gently sceptical "he says." For one has to remember the "prodigious amounts of fan mail" that the Professor receives as a result of his celebrity in the "pot world"; there's no particular need to court unpopularity.

Why not "particularly" in favour? It's unsuitable for:

1. Potential schizophrenics - estimated as 1% of the population.
2. Those liable to anxiety disorders at some time in their lives - prevalence estimated at 14.6% of the population. - with signficant comorbity between cannabis use and anxiety.
3. Young people - i.e. 100% of the population for a proportion of their lives.

So despite his fan mail, the Professor's studies of chemical extracts are not an argument for recreational intoxication. Similarly, aspirin is useful, but there is no great movement to have us all chewing willow bark.

Having said that, perhaps if we have really given up on the idea of arresting the West's decline, maybe THC extract will do as a soma for the ever-growing number of losers; including, of course, a number who could have become winners.


*Actually, it's 58 patents, every one of which relates to cannabinoids and their derivatives, but strictly for medical applications, and a number of the outlines (e.g. this one) are careful to stress the absence of psychotropic effects.


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Paddington said...

I am against its use in under-devloped males brains. If nothing else, it appears to impede short-term memory, and saps the will.

Sackerson said...

One of its advantages appears to be memory loss for those who have had traumatic experiences.

CherryPie said...

With regard to memory loss and traumatic experiences...

Sackerson said...

Very interesting, Cherie - an aspect I'd never considered.

James Higham said...

Must admit to being a supporter of cannabis legality. Drink is just as bad in the wrong hands. Both alter the consciousness.

Sackerson said...

Jsmes: my instinct would chime with yours, but I think the real issue is commercialisation, which is what US Prohibition was about. Business will always look to expand. How about, cannabis legal but nobody can buy, sell or manufacture on an industrial basis?