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Aug 18, 2018



Cannabis is about to be unleashed in our country for “recreational” use. (The worst use of the word I can imagine!) With the skimpy knowledge we have today we are “subjecting our population to the most widespread experiment in modern medical history” (Dr.Raphael Mechoulam,the Father of Pot). Cannabis is the only drug in Canada that did not have to go through rigorous process of drug approval.


My message in this short review of the drug, is that it IS a drug, and it has many effects, some good and some bad and some possibly deadly! In other words, it is similar to all drugs, herbs and other chemicals that human beings seem to want to ingest. 


Cannabis or Marijuana seeds were discovered over 8000, or 3000, or 2000 years ago, according to who one reads. There are over 600 nicknames for the stuff, from Ambor Green,to Zambezi Purple and likely many more.


It is mentioned frequently in the Yellow Emperors Manual of Internal Medicine over 2500 years ago. Advocates use this information to promote the drug. Specific diseases however in the manual that are susceptible to cannabis, are not mentioned. Maimonides the great Jewish physician and philosopher mentioned it in his writings.


It was sold without difficulty for many years in Europe and also the United States. It was banned in 1933 internationally and wrongly included with the type I drugs such as morphine and opioids. Because all of this lack of supply, medical research, especially in the United States was unable to be performed.


Most of what we know about the drug comes from Israel from the laboratory  of Dr.Raphael Mechoulim and his colleagues in Tel Aviv and now in Jerusalem. Their work includes the discovery of THC which is believed to be the major chemical involved in central nervous system function, and CBD which is found in most organs in the body, leading them to describe the Endocannabinoid Receptor System which they believe is an essential system. They have discovered at least 10 other transmitters at this time. They have 25,000 patients actively being treated in Israel for such conditions as intractable epilepsy, chronic pain, and disorders of which the cause is not known. such as Crohn’s disease, and posttraumatic stress disorder.


The research has been done and which is acceptable on cannabis includes multiple sclerosis, chronic pain post chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, peripheral neuritis and various forms of arthritis. In these studies, success rate is roughly 60 to 70%,  about 20% fail  and there is of course,a significant placebo effect. The results therefore, reflect the classic results from a randomized controlled studies, that effect all drugs.

In a recent interview with Dr.Mechoulim, he stated that cannabis is a very psychoactive drug and he agrees that it should not be crime  but he is concerned about legalization and the concept of a recreational drug. “it is a very psychoactive drug and much more research is needed, as we still don’t understand most of its function.”

As we all know, there is currently an epidemic of death and disability because of opioids and related substances. This is not only occurring in our country, but it is now worldwide. The so-called war on drugs which was instituted by President Nixon, is a failure.   Decriminalizing marijuana is a good move because the users shall not be considered criminals and therefore not considered felons.


Some of the advocates of this drug claim that most of the research has been done is only looking for bad effects. I could not find any specific evidence of this in the papers that I reviewed.  


Marijuana was legalized in Colorado five years ago and according to reports from the press is not been an increase in usage, and they claim their emergency rooms are not being overwhelmed by young people with side effects. On the other hand, the Centers of Disease Control in the United States have noted marked increase in emergency room visits by people suffering from severe side effects from marijuana, many times  adulterated with other substances such as cocaine and methamphetamines.

Statistics from Colorado and Washington State claimed that there is an increase in automobile accidents and deaths where marijuana is involved. Admittedly, many of these events were contaminated with other substances including alcohol. My discussions with emergency room physicians and also directors of University health clinics revealed that there has been an increase in attendance by young people suffering from suspected side effects of cannabis.


There have been a few long-term studies in those who have been imbibing marijuana for many years From Switzerland and Norway there is some evidence that perhaps marijuana or cannabis  can precipitate schizophrenia.



Recently the Canadian Medical Association    suggested that the drug the not given to young people before the age of 18, because there is evidence   that the drug effects of certain parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, learning and cognition in the developing brain.. Long-term smoking can lead to similar changes that are found in the lungs of tobacco smokers.




There are a number of groups in the Western world that are attempting to use education of young children about the effects of all drugs and that there are good effects, and bad effects. I belong to one of these organizations and the attempt is now being made to go to schools and youth organizations, and talking to young people about the Truth About Drugs -ALL DRUGS!. As yet there is not much evidence that this education is successful, but research suggests that it has a positive effect especially if the parents are present at some of these sessions.


On the Internet there are lists of organizations that are attempting to use education as a tool to prevent and stop them the current pandemic




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.