Friday, November 20, 2009

Tobacco-Related Health Costs: $800; Booze-Related Health Costs: $165; Pot-Related Health Costs: $20

Health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers, according to a report published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal.

According to the report, “In terms of [health-related] costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”

The review, authored by researchers from the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia at the University of Victoria and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse at the University of Ottawa, stated: “Alcohol is used by a very large number of people with the vast majority of these using in low- or moderate-risk ways. Conversely, cannabis and tobacco are used by far fewer people. The majority of cannabis use is low- and moderate-risk, however, while the majority of tobacco is high-risk.”

The study reported that social costs applicable to marijuana are primarily “enforcement-related.”

The authors concluded: “The harms, risks and social costs of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco vary greatly. A lot has to do with how the substances are handled legally. Alcohol and tobacco are legal substances, which explains their low enforcement costs relative to cannabis. On the other hand, the health costs per user of tobacco and alcohol are much higher than for cannabis. This may indicate that cannabis use involves fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco.

“These variations in risk, harms and cost need to be taken into account as we think about further efforts to deal with the use of these three substances. … Efforts to reduce social costs related to cannabis, for example, will likely involve shifting its legal status by decriminalizing casual use, to reduce the high enforcement costs. Such a shift may be warranted given the apparent lower health risk associated with most cannabis use.”

According to a recent Rasmussen national poll of 1,000 likely voters, Americans believe by more than two to one that alcohol is “more dangerous” than marijuana

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is cannabis a treatment for brain tumours? : Cancer Research UK : CancerHelp UK

Research into cannabis as a cancer treatment

In the past few years cannabis has been the subject of a lot of medical research. There were many media reports in August 2004 about very early stage research into the use of chemical cannabinoids to help treat a type of brain tumour called glioblastoma multiforme. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients in marijuana. Complutense University in Madrid and the University hospital of Tenerife jointly carried out the research. Their results were published in the medical journal 'Cancer Research' on August 15th 2004.

The research found that cannabinoids interfere with the activity of genes needed to produce a chemical called ‘VEGF’. VEGF stands for ‘Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor’. It helps to make new cells grow.

VEGF is one of the most important chemicals controlling blood vessel growth. Doctors call the growth of new blood vessels ‘ angiogenesis’. As they get bigger, cancers need to grow their own blood vessels. Without its own blood supply to bring food and take away waste from cells, a cancer can’t grow bigger than a pea. If doctors could block VEGF, this could limit the growth of blood vessels supplying tumours and so they won’t be able to grow. This is called anti VEGF treatment.

The researchers first tested cannabinoids in the laboratory, with some promising results. They then looked at the effects of injecting cannabinoids into the brain tumours of two people with advanced glioblastoma multiforme. The researchers at the University hospital of Tenerife then used injections of cannabinoids into the tumours of 9 patients. The substance seemed to slow the growth of the tumours but more research is needed before we know whether cannabinoids may really be helpful in treating brain tumours.

Clinical trials

As far as we know, there are no trials at the moment. Further trials may take place. There are already several other anti VEGF inhibitors in clinical development for several types of cancers. It is all very early research and it may be many years before we know for sure how safe and effective anti VEGF treatment really is for people with cancer.

Clinical trials test new drugs in humans. They test drugs that have already shown potential in the laboratory. Trials initially recruit a small number of patients and if the treatment shows promise, the researchers will go on to plan larger trials. If you would like to read more about clinical trials, there is information about understanding clinical trials on CancerHelp UK. If you are looking for trials that are open and recruiting patients in the UK, go to our clinical trials database. Pick your type of cancer from the drop down menu of cancer types.

More information about brain tumours

There is information about brain tumours and their treatment in the brain tumour section of CancerHelp UK.

Cannabis destroys cancer cells

Research at Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry reveals

01 March 2006

Researchers investigating the role of cannabis in cancer therapy reveal it has the potential to destroy leukaemia cells, in a paper published in the March 2006 edition of Letters in Drug Design & Discovery. Led by Dr Wai Man Liu, at Barts and the London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, the team has followed up on their findings of 2005 which showed that the main active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, has the potential to be used effectively against some forms of cancer. Dr Liu has since moved to the Institute of Cancer in Sutton where he continues his work into investigating the potential therapeutic benefit of new anti-cancer agents.

It has previously been acknowledged that cannabis-based medicines have merit in the treatment of cancer patients as a painkiller; appetite stimulant and in reducing nausea, but recently evidence has been growing of its potential as an anti-tumour agent. The widely reported psychoactive side effects and consequent legal status of cannabis have, however, complicated its use in this capacity. Although THC and its related compounds have been shown to attack cancer cells by interfering with important growth-processing pathways, it has not hitherto been established exactly how this is achieved.

Now Dr Liu and his colleagues, using highly sophisticated microarray technology – allowing them to simultaneously detect changes in more than 25,000 genes in cells treated with THC – have begun to uncover further the existence of crucial processes through which THC can kill cancer cells and potentially promote survival. Further, Dr Liu found that the mechanism of cannabis may be independent of the presence of receptors – proteins found on the surface of cells to which other signalling molecules bind. Binding of molecules to receptors elicits a response in the cell, be it growth or death. The finding that cannabis action may not require the presence of these receptors introduces the possibility that the drug may be used more widely as the cancer cell’s dependence on the cannabis receptor is removed.

Whilst leukaemia treatment is on the whole successful, some people cannot be treated with conventional therapy - 25 per cent of children with leukaemia fail to respond to traditional treatment leaving their prognosis outcome poor. Dr Liu’s research findings provide a crucial first step towards the development of new therapies that can eradicate a deadly disease which affects millions of children and adults worldwide.

Dr Liu said: “It is important to stress that these cannabis-like substances are far removed from the cannabis that is smoked. These novel compounds have been specifically designed to be free of the psychoactive features, whilst maintaining anti-cancer action. Ultimately, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of these compounds will provide us with insights into developing new drugs that can be used to effectively treat cancers.”

For further information, please contact:

Alexandra Fernandes
Deputy Head of Communications
Queen Mary, University of London
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7882 7910

Notes to Editors:

Queen Mary, University of London

• Queen Mary is one of the leading colleges in the federal University of London, with over 11,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, and an academic and support staff of around 2,600.

Queen Mary is a research university, with over 80 per cent of research staff working in departments where research is of international or national excellence (RAE 2001). It has a strong international reputation, with around 20 per cent of students coming from over 100 countries.

The College has 21 academic departments and institutes organised into three sectors: Science and Engineering; Humanities, Social Sciences and Laws; and the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

It has an annual turnover of £200 million, research income worth £43 million, and it generates employment and output worth nearly £400 million to the UK economy each year.

• Queen Mary’s roots lie in four historic colleges: Queen Mary College, Westfield College, St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and the London Hospital Medical College.

Institute of Cancer, Barts and the London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry

Created in 2003 the Institute of Cancer brings together some of the most eminent cancer research teams in London across six research centres. Under the leadership of the Director, Professor Nick Lemoine, and supported by an Executive Board of senior investigators, it is creating the academic environment fitting for an internationally recognised, comprehensive cancer centre. Its Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre – the first such international centre of excellence to be established in the UK - is the largest group of Cancer Research UK clinical and translational groups in London. The Institute is supported by a host of charities, research councils and industry with grants awarded totalling more than £5million per annum.

Microarray technology

A microarray is a slide on which have been embedded thousands of probes specific for all the genes found within a cell. Dr Liu’s data showed that certain pathways involved in cell survival were acted upon by cannabis, resulting in the death of the cell.

BBC NEWS | Health | Cannabis compound 'halts cancer'

Cannabis compound 'halts cancer'
cannabis plant
The CBD compound found in cannabis is non-toxic
A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer spreading throughout the body, US scientists believe.

The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute team are hopeful that cannabidiol or CBD could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.

Unlike cannabis, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties so its use would not violate laws, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics reports.

The authors stressed that they were not suggesting patients smoke marijuana.

They added that it would be highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking cannabis.

This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects
Lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister

CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site - a process called metastasis.

Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers.

The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.

Future hope

Lead researcher Dr Sean McAllister said: "Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer.

"Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients.

"This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects."

Dr Joanna Owens of Cancer Research UK said: "This research is at a very early stage.

"The findings will need to be followed up with clinical trials in humans to see if the CBD is safe, and whether the beneficial effects can be replicated.

"Several cancer drugs based on plant chemicals are already used widely, such as vincristine - which is derived from a type of flower called Madagascar Periwinkle and is used to treat breast and lung cancer. It will be interesting to see whether CBD will join them."

Maria Leadbeater of Breast Cancer Care said: "Many people experience side-effects while having chemotherapy, such as nausea and an increased risk of infection, which can take both a physical and emotional toll.

"Any drug that has fewer side-effects will, of course, be of great interest."

But she added: "It is clear that much more research needs to be carried out."

Shawn AIDS Update #5 - Rick Simpson Hemp Oil 8/26/09

Shawn - AIDS Update #4 - Rick Simpson Hemp Oil 6/1/09

Shawn - AIDS Update #3 - Rick Simpson Hemp Oil 5/10/09

continued from part 2 same day

Shawn - AIDS Update #2 - Rick Simpson Hemp Oil 5/10/09

This is part 2 of Shawn's attempt to cure his aids with cannabis

Ex-minister Peter Baume backs cannabis regulation

Professor Baume says some groups will oppose his softer approach.

Professor Baume says some groups will oppose his softer approach. (Reuters: Mark Blinch)

Former Fraser government minister Peter Baume has endorsed an international report which proposes regulating illegal drugs in the same way as pharmaceuticals.

Professor Baume says prohibition has not worked and is only putting tax-free money into the hands of criminals.

Professor Baume spent 17 years in the Australian Parliament. During the Fraser government he was the minister for health, the minister for Aboriginal affairs and the minister for education.

After politics he became the ninth chancellor of the Australian National University.

This morning he endorsed a report - by the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation - which showed how to regulate all the drugs which are currently illegal.

Professor Baume says prohibited drugs could be regulated by governments the same way as pharmaceuticals.

"At the moment you're getting corruption, diversion of money," he said.

"Prohibition isn't working; the Americans dismissed prohibition of alcohol because it didn't work. Why do they think prohibition of illicit drugs will work any better?"

Decriminalising drugs

Professor Baume says several countries are decriminalising the possession of drugs.

"Take Holland for a good example. There isn't a massive drug problem in Holland and the roof hasn't fallen in because they've done that," he said.

"We want our schools and our communities to be safe for our kids and our families and at the moment we're not going about it very well."

Holland is well known for its marijuana cafes, were people can drop in and buy an amount of any type of marijuana, much like buying a cup of coffee.

Professor Baume says he does not know if such cafes work or not.

"What I would like to see is that we have strict regulations - no sales to juniors - the same as tobacco," he said.

"And I know tobacco's harmful, but I look at tobacco and I look at cannabis and I think, which is worse at the present time?

"Which of the arrangements we've got are better and which are worse? And honestly I think we could do better than we're doing."

Professor Baume says he knows some groups will oppose his softer approach to drug possession.

"The criminals won't want a bar of it and they never have because they're doing very nicely out of the present system," he said.

"The people who are winning from the present system won't want any change. Zealots and warriors won't want any change.

"The first thing we've got to do is get a good debate going. I mean there are millions of different ways of organising things. Let's have a debate about which is the best."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Is cannabis very harmful? Don't be a dope

PA Cannabis Is cannabis very harmful? Don't be a dope
The Government's message on cannabis has been unclear

The Government's drugs policy is a mess. Who says so? No less an authority than Professor David Nutt, the Government's chief adviser on drugs, who has been sacked for his temerity. His dismissal has been followed by the resignations of another member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which he chaired. Prof Nutt's offence was to say that cannabis causes less harm than alcohol and tobacco – not just to the health of the individual consumer but also in a wider sense, especially the violence associated with binge drinking. Since this is a fact, attempts to traduce him as the nutty professor are absurd.

He did not say cannabis is harmless; certainly today's stronger varieties are associated with psychotic behaviour. Nor did Prof Nutt suggest cannabis should be legalised. His point was that if you are going to have a classification system based on relative harms, then it is a bit odd to put cannabis on a par with more dangerous substances. Those who dispute this do so because they do not like the louche lifestyles of recreational drug users; but disapproval does not change the facts.

Prof Nutt's mistake was to imagine that this was a scientific issue when it is a political one. Government ministers believe that the public will not accept anything that looks like they are being soft on a particular drug, especially the most widely used variety. This is simply not true. A YouGov poll, one of the largest surveys conducted in this country on drugs policy and carried out for the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) drugs commission, on which I sat, showed that most people would be happy to see the personal use of cannabis decriminalised or penalties for its possession lowered to the status of a parking fine.

However, since this is not going to happen any time soon, you have to ask why the Government moved cannabis from B to C in the first place. This story is an object lesson in how to mess things up and finish in a worse position than where you began.

The classification system was laid down in the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act to provide a matrix of potential and relative harms linked to a penalty scale. That is where the law stood until October 2001, when David Blunkett, then Home Secretary, announced that he wanted to move cannabis from B to C. Since the law then specified that possession of a Class C substance was a non-arrestable offence, this meant the police would be free to deal with "harder" drugs, such as heroin and crack cocaine, which caused most of the crime problems.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs agreed with Mr Blunkett and cannabis was duly downgraded in 2004.

In the first year, there was no increase in use of cannabis, and arrests for possession fell by one third, saving an estimated 199,000 police hours. It did not take long, however, for the aims of the policy to be lost in a fug of confusion. Shortly before the general election in 2005, a new Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, asked the advisory council to carry out another review – a cynical device to get Labour through the election campaign. The council, unsurprisingly, reached the same conclusion as it had the year before and, safely back in office, Clarke agreed to keep cannabis in Class C.

The classification system itself was then questioned by the Commons Science Select Committee. It produced a table of harms, placing alcohol fifth on the list, ahead of some class A drugs, while tobacco was ninth. Cannabis was 11th. Interestingly enough, when people were asked by YouGov to do their own non-scientific drugs classification, they also put alcohol and tobacco ahead of cannabis.

Then Gordon Brown became Prime Minister and decided he wanted a drugs policy showing he possessed a "moral compass". So the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was sent off to think again, a disgraceful use of an independent advisory body. Once more, it recommended cannabis should be Class C, but was overruled by Mr Brown, who had made up his mind to return it to Class B, whatever the scientific evidence.

There is an argument, and one that is not confined to far-out libertarians, that if cannabis, heroin and cocaine were legally available they could be controlled much more effectively and their supply – which has expanded despite massively expensive efforts to shut it down – removed from the hands of criminals. But that is not going to happen. Any government that proposed it would be crucified. Furthermore, there are international obligations operating through the United Nations that Britain, as a signatory, must uphold. These require certain drugs to be illegal and in this country are enshrined in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

In that case, it behoves governments to implement laws in as effective and coherent a way as possible, which means sending out clear messages and deploying punishments and penalties consistently. Yet in recent years, where cannabis is concerned, the message has been anything but clear. Indeed, ministers have made such a pig's ear of the law that you have to wonder whether they were smoking the stuff themselves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kings Cross Times: Cannabis/schizophrenia link 'minimal' -- UK study

While we are saturated with assertions that cannabis causes psychotic mental illness, prohibitionists always act as if the evidence is concrete and stay very quiet about the very small numbers of users who actually have the disease.

And the numbers are very small. A new UK study looked at it the other way around -- How many people would you have to prevent from using cannabis to prevent one case of Schizophrenia?
The study found it would be necessary to stop 2800 heavy cannabis users in young men and over 5000 heavy cannabis users in young women to prevent a single case of schizophrenia. Among light cannabis users, those numbers rise to over 10,000 young men and nearly 30,000 young women to prevent one case of schizophrenia.
This shows how exaggerated is the moral panic on this subject, when many other activities acceptable to society carry FAR higher risks*. Of course the study stops short of describing the deeper fallacy in prohibitionist ideology -- where is the evidence that prohibition prevents anyone from using cannabis, let alone the millions that might be required to significantly reduce schizophrenia?

Professor David Nutt, who heads the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, also says cannabis does not cause major health problems and repeats his claim that ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse.

The UK government ignored the advice of the ACMD and upgraded cannabis into the Class B category, attracting higher penalties, in a move that Professor Nutt described as "devaluing scientific research". The Liberal Western Australian Government has just made a similar move, also against the advice of its own research body. In both places, cannabis use had reduced during the period the drug was subject to lighter penalties.

WA brought its crackdown just as Dr Norm Stamper was in the state with his message of legal regulation. He reports in the Huffington Post on the rude reception he met in Parliament, the refusal to listen to evidence and the political paranoia of the lawmakers.

Check the letter below from one of the WA Liberal politicians. Every statement in it is demonstrably wrong. Truly, as Arthur Miller said, ideology is "the principled denial of fact".

Reply from WA politician Hon Nick Goiran MLC to a letter re repeal of the Cannabis Control Act 2003.


21 October 2009

Dear Mr X


Thank you for your letter regarding Premier Colin Barnett's announcement to introduce legislation to repeal the Cannabis Control Act 2003.

The State Government recognises that illicit drug use is a significant problem which affects the lives of users, their families, friends and the wider WA community and cannabis-related legislation is sending a clear anti-drugs message to the community.

Research shows that cannabis use can lead to a mass of health and mental health problems including respiratory problems and cancer risk, abnormalities in reproductive functioning and schizophrenia.
Drugs are an insidious threat to the fabric of our society. l have personally seen how people are enslaved, threatened and exploited because of drug debts and addiction. Illegal drugs ruin lives, shatter families and can create a downfall on our community foundation. We should seek to protect our fellow West Australians and these initiatives will crackdown on the plague of illicit drugs in our State.

From what you have written, you support a policy of 'Harm Minimisation'- a strategy to ameliorate the adverse consequences of drug use while drug use continues. I firmly believe that harm minimisation strategies communicate a message condoning drug use, a message I do not espouse. Furthermore, in my view harm minimisation strategies have been an abject failure.

Accordingly, l strongly support the Premier's announcement and the use of criminal law to deter drug use and look forward to voting in favour of the proposed legislation.

Yours sincerely

Hon Nick Goiran MLC

Member for the South Metropolitan Region


* Activities which carry FAR higher risks than using cannabis: Playing football (especially Gridiron); mountain-climbing; night yacht racing; rock fishing; riding a pushbike or motorbike; flying ultralight aircraft etc etc.

Shawn – Rick Simpson Hemp oil – update #1 April 26,2009

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