06 Aug The Castor and Pollox of Medical Marijuana
If medical marijuana were medical would you smoke it? Drugs are used for specific illness and if pot is medicinal it should adhere to the same guidelines.
The story of Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology tells of two brothers from different fathers, one mortal and one a God. Castor died and Pollux, who was a god, was so devastated at being separated from his brother that he offered to share his immortalitywith Castor or to give it up so that he could join his brother in Hades. Zeus declared that the brothers would take turns dwelling in Hades and with the gods on Mount Olympus. On one day, Castor would be with the gods and Pollux would be in Hades. The next day, the two would change places. This was a painful way to live and so Zeus placed the brothers in the heavens as part of the constellation Gemini, the twins. The story signifies the difficulty of being two things at once and this is apropos for medical – marijuana.
The debates go on and on and on with medical marijuana. There are so many variables at play and no easy answer, no formula, no rules – and it’s chaos – it’s the new gunslinger in a wild-west town. To the cancer patient it’s a lifesaver and to the drug addict, it’s a “freebie.” So which is it, a medical solution or a leisurely pleasure? It can’t be both. It’s a gamble – what will happen, how dispensaries will be regulated, how those with substance abuse problems will be affected, how kids will understand the difference between recreation vs. medication, and how people who are sick can access their medication without having to smoke it. Yep, it’s the great unknown and the outcome will be a game changer.
I spend a fair amount of time pondering marijuana addiction, legalization, medical marijuana and dispensaries. This past month the news was ripe with “situations” involving pot. An alleged robber was shot to death by a security guard at a dispensary near LAX. Well, that doesn’t normally happen at the neighborhood pharmacy or in the doctor’s office. A few days ago The Alphabet Academy Learning Center in Salem, Oregon was closed down because the staff was allegedly smoking marijuana with children present. The owner, Charity Araujo, has denied any wrongdoing telling news channel KATU, “When we medicate our kids are in the house for nap time.” She also said, “It helps with the pain, and it allows me to get up and start walking.” Who has a daycare center in the first place if they have difficulty walking? And when the kids wake up – you’ll still be stoned!
I was also struck by the question of how medical marijuana can be medical when you smoke it? If things are “all in the delivery, sweetheart,” then something’s amiss because the delivery system of smoking pot is pure carcinogenic. Peter Friedmann, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Medicine & Community Health at Brown University states, “Smoking is not an accepted route of administration for medication.” Cannabis Sativa is made up of 500+ chemical compounds. Two of the many cannabinoids that bind receptors in your body and in turn affect your immune system and brain – THC and cannabidiol (CBD – which does not make you high) are identified as beneficial. When the 500+ chemical compounds are on fire they can produce hundreds or thousands of carcinogenic byproducts. Marijuana smoke can contain up to 70% more carcinogens than cigarette smoke. So what is medical about this?
Marijuana cannot be classified as both medicine and a relaxing pleasure – it’s just got to be one or the other – so kids don’t get confused, the sick don’t get sicker and addicts can face the truth. Alcohol is not used to treat medical conditions; it’s purely for pleasure. There’s a black and white policy for prescription drugs, they’re medicine. Oxycontin is a pain medication, not a calming amusement. Cocaine was intended as an anesthetic, not rousing refreshment. Horse tranquilizers (Ketamine) cannot be helping horses and humans simultaneously. If marijuana were really a remedy, the delivery system wouldn’t be via smoking knarly bud “classified” with names like “Cat Piss.” Doctors use so many different forms of medicine to treat a variety of ailments: chemo for the cancer patient, insulin for diabetics, pain medication for physical pain, antibiotics for infection, etc. Why is pot being governed on both sides? Let’s call a spade a spade, not a heart.
The Castor and Pollox approach in regards to medical marijuana living in two worlds at once is confusing to kids, addicts and those deteriorating from an illness. Kids will suffer because they are easily influenced and need definite guidelines. Addicts will continue to lie to themselves with the defense that, “it’s medicinal, dude.” And many who have a legitimate need for cannabis, feel shame at having to creep around to buy it, are subjected to newer, more intense strains and have the added challenge of a problematic delivery system in the smoking of it.
We do things fast in this country. We like it that way. We jump in with both feet and we figure out the pitfalls later. We operate on the principle that it’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Some people are probably always going to try and get relief from substances, whatever they are. They’d smoke toothpaste on a cigarette if they thought it would change the way they feel. That’s not the issue.
If marijuana is really medicinal, then patients who need it won’t have to get stoned out of their gourd just to get at the remedy. If marijuana is really medicinal, people who are sick wouldn’t be subjected to 500 + potential carcinogens inflaming their lungs. If marijuana is really medicinal then get rid of the bogus dispensaries that push fervent strains of cannabis called Death Star, White Widow and Anthrax. If marijuana is really medicinal, there wouldn’t be gun fights at the OK Pharmacy.