Liquid cannabis
April 22, 2005 9:27 AM   Subscribe

The Lesson of Sativex - By approving liquid marijuana, the Canadian government has just certified that virtually everything our own (American) government has been telling us about marijuana is wrong. A little more on Sativex from GW Pharm. (via The Media Awareness Project ... and the MPP)
posted by mrgrimm (50 comments total)

 
Charming comment on the bottom of the 1st link:

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR GOVERNMENT
The US choosing science, reason, compassion and world consensus over irrational and obstinate authoritarianism rooted in a Puritanical world view and obscene corporate profits? Puh-leeezze!!! If you want the future, try Canada. If you want the middle ages, try the US or Saudi Arabia. Either is a fine example of religious fanaticism and violent fundamentalism. trumping the progress of humankind and dragging it back into the muck of self-righteous, hypocritical moralizers. Good luck living and dealing with that!
posted by H. Roark at 9:39 AM on April 22, 2005


the Canadian government has just certified that virtually everything our own (American) government has been telling us about marijuana is wrong.

Well duh. Whatever the US "knows" about marijuana it learned from the forestry, oil and alcohol lobby, so it's not surprising that it turns out to be quite wrong and self-serving.
posted by clevershark at 9:45 AM on April 22, 2005


O Canada!
My home and sativa land!
Truth, reason, and love, in all thy sons command.

With glowing bowls we see thee rise,
The True North high and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for weed.

God keep our stash glorious and green!
O Canada, we stand on guard for weed.

O Canada, we stand on guard for weed.
posted by garfield at 9:46 AM on April 22, 2005


This is good news for MS sufferers in Canada.
posted by carmen at 9:47 AM on April 22, 2005


Cannabis spray

Delicious on chicken.
posted by Peter H at 9:50 AM on April 22, 2005


This would have been perfect to post two days ago.

So, when can I get a twelve pack of brewed weed juice?
posted by fenriq at 9:59 AM on April 22, 2005


I've always been curious about the use of THC for pain relief. In my experience, marijuana makes me acutely aware of every sensation, pain or otherwise. Thankfully I don't suffer from chronic (ahem) pain, but I'm dumbfounded that the effect can be so different in those that do. Of course, if it's the only thing that works, then good on ya, Canada!
posted by uncleozzy at 10:08 AM on April 22, 2005


Actually I've found MJ useful for dealing with certain types of tooth pains, and for the pain following wisdom teeth removal.
posted by clevershark at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2005


My wife's truck-mashed elbow gives her chronic pain, and marijuana only makes it more intense. I think, though, that it also helps her care less about it, so I guess it balances out...

As far as I know, there is no current law making marijuana illegal, as that law was struck down as unconstitutional, and the feds have yet to write a new law. What is not explicitly illegal is, I think, legal...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 AM on April 22, 2005


Charming comment on the bottom of the 1st link:


I actually found it quite astute.

My dad was prescribed Marinol towards the end of his life for pain, nausea and negligible appetite. He said it did nothing for him. He had a friend from Woodstock get him a four or five ounce bag of homegrown weed which, unfortunately, he could never get himself to smoke due to feeling that he would be committing a serious crime (never mind that merely possessing it is a crime). He felt that he would be no better than a punk dope head if he smoked it. Great. Terminal patient has a potential wonderful source of pain relief and due to stigma and backwards government policy has to suffer. Never mind that the Oxycontin he was PRESCRIBED is a far more addictive, powerful and dangerous drug than marijuana but somehow it's perfectly fine to prescribe. Ridiculous.
posted by spicynuts at 10:23 AM on April 22, 2005


Oh I forgot to clarify that the pain, nausea and negligible appetite were due to liver and pancreatic cancer.
posted by spicynuts at 10:24 AM on April 22, 2005


Five, sounds like you been smokin' a little too much of the loco choke-o to me...=) What law is this you're talking about?
posted by stenseng at 10:24 AM on April 22, 2005


Just great. Soon, waves of reefer-maddened Canucks will be spilling over our borders, demanding poutine for their munchies.

(As I understand it, the American medical establishment has generally been willing to admit that pot has some valid medical uses; it's the American political establishment that says it doesn't.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:38 AM on April 22, 2005


Just great. Soon, waves of reefer-maddened Canucks will be spilling over our borders, demanding poutine for their munchies.

You'd certainly have to be high to look for poutine in the states.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:03 AM on April 22, 2005


What law is this you're talking about?

Check the location field in his profile, stenseng. He's talking about Canadian law.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:05 AM on April 22, 2005


five is right.
posted by garfield at 11:07 AM on April 22, 2005


Oxycontin he was PRESCRIBED is a far more addictive, powerful and dangerous drug than marijuana but somehow it's perfectly fine to prescribe. Ridiculous.

On the other hand, it certainly would have worked. I'm sure MJ is great for loss of appetite. But is it really that good as a straight up pain reliever?

On the other hand, if you're going to die anyway might as well take opiates, since you don't have to worry about addiction. They aren’t dangerous if you don't overdose. I’d be that Oxycontin is less dangerous then Aspirin
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on April 22, 2005


On the other hand, if you're going to die anyway might as well take opiates, since you don't have to worry about addiction

I'd imagine that for an invalid, the constipation opiates inevitably cause could be even more troublesome than the addiction...

..and as for Oxycontin being less dangerous than Aspirin, I hope you're speaking tongue-in-cheek....
posted by jbrjake at 11:34 AM on April 22, 2005


oops hit return too fast.

But is it really that good as a straight up pain reliever?

This is where the difference between absorbing cannibinoids through the lungs or the GI tract comes into play. It's generally thought, at least anecdotally, among users, that absorption through the GI tract leads to a certain numbness or "body stone" that a joint doesn't. I was watching a DVD the other day wherein Robert Anton Wilson claimed that medical marijuana worked better for him if he did visualization exercises of light healing his body, so I imagine part of the pain-relief effect is psychosomatic, and not caused by actually blocking the pain signals the way a normal pain reliever might.
posted by jbrjake at 11:38 AM on April 22, 2005


delmoi is probably intending to make the point that far more lives are lost from gastrointestinal hemorrhage, stroke, and renal injury due to unmonitored NSAID (aspirin, ibu, naproxen) use than opioid analgesics. It's not a commentary on the social costs of opiate addiction.
posted by docpops at 11:39 AM on April 22, 2005


As far as I know, there is no current law making marijuana illegal, as that law was struck down as unconstitutional, and the feds have yet to write a new law. What is not explicitly illegal is, I think, legal...

Ruh? Guh?

'Splain me this, please.
posted by Specklet at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2005


On the other hand, if you're going to die anyway might as well take opiates, since you don't have to worry about addiction.

There's an argument against this, actually. I'm not going to vouch for its validity; I'm just repeating what I've heard:

Opiates tend to have a really powerful impact on clarity of thought. Someone who's taking high doses of opiates is not going to be particularly lucid. Patients approaching the end of life are often unhappy about this: they want to be lucid to say goodbye, etc. Advocates of cannabis for pain treatment claim that it's possible to separate out the cognitive effects of the drug from it's beneficial effects. They claim that a tolerance to the cognitive side effects quickly develops, and that since users can learn to control their own dosage, they can maximize their pain relief while remaining lucid. Again, I don't know how true this is, but it is consistent with the effect of marijuana on the frequent users I've know: they remain lucid (and oftentimes pretty sharp, even) after smoking.

For what it's worth.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:44 AM on April 22, 2005


So, when can I get a twelve pack of brewed weed juice?
--fenriq


It's come and gone

Which is stupid. I personally tested some of those samples in the lab. No narcotics. But it wasn't the greatest tasting stuff, anyway.
posted by solotoro at 11:50 AM on April 22, 2005


On the other hand, [oxycontin] certainly would have worked.

I get the feeling he did use it, and it was probably somewhat effective. But medicine has side effects that vary from person to person, and the pain of your body wasting away into oblivion isn't exactly easy to get rid. In any case treatment for pain is more effective with a larger medical arsenal (so you can find out what works for which patients). My dad was given all kinds of pain killers when he had cancer, and he had a morphine drip for over a month probably. He didn't like using the drugs, though, because he said they made him feel "out of it" (as mr_roboto alludes to). Apparently some other family members offered to get him some marijuana, but again, he didn't want to try it because he was no "dope fiend". Maybe it would've helped, maybe not, but the point is that there is a potentially useful medicine that's not being allowed for no good fucking reason. Had he been able to use it legally, maybe it would have helped him, maybe not, but we'll never know.

Oh, an by the way, the appetite loss is a very large part of the devastation of cancer. I saw my dad go from 250+ to probably just over 100 lbs by the end mostly because he just couldn't eat. That's not healthy, and the extreme lack of nutrition contributes significantly to the deterioration of the body. Oddly enough, he'd sit around and watch the food channel a lot; I guess if you can't eat just thinking about it helps...

And, as cool as this is, humans have known for thousands of years that marijuana is medicinally useful. Our government's own studies have even admitted this - and subsequently been ignored.

Here's a quote from the DEA's Chief Administrative Law Judge circa 1988:

The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2005


argh, sorry, ignore my post above about GI absorption as it is irrelevant

After reading the Bayer link, I see that this isn't really the medication AlterNet seems to think it is. Liquid THC is one thing, but this isn't a simple tincture. They're obviously doing something strange with it:
Sativex is a cannabis extract containing tetranabinex (THC) and nabidiolex (cannabidiol - CBD) as its principal component. It does not contain the active substance found in recreational cannabis and so patients taking Sativex will not become intoxicated. Sativex is administered by means of a spray into the mouth rather than smoked.
How does it contain THC and CBD but not "the active substance found in recreational cannabis" ? Their specs even say it's a "full plant extract" so something seems off. I also wonder if they added any synthetics so it would spray/coat the gums better....

delmoi is probably intending to make the point that far more lives are lost from gastrointestinal hemorrhage, stroke, and renal injury due to unmonitored NSAID (aspirin, ibu, naproxen) use than opioid analgesics. It's not a commentary on the social costs of opiate addiction.

Nor was I trying to make such a commentary. My point is just that Oxycontin is more dangerous than Aspirin, no matter how you cut it. Aspirin's LD50 is what, 750mg/kg? Even 80mg OxyContin tablets have warnings that they can cause fatal respiratory depression in non-addicts.
posted by jbrjake at 11:57 AM on April 22, 2005


My mom suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, and when they were first trying to get it under control (which never really happened) they prescribed Marinol for her. It didn't do shit.

One of the things that the ethnobotanists and other researchers that I've read seem to agree on is that when one refines or tries to seperate out the "active" ingredients of a psychotropic plant, anecdotal evidence seems to show that (sometimes) one can lose a lot of the potential synergistic effects. (Like alkaloid A + alkaloid B = X, but alkaloid A alone = Y.)

I remember around '91 or so, telling her that I would provide marijuana for her, and she continually demurred, with an older mindset of "I can't do it if it's illegal." At one point, she ran the idea past one of her doctors, and he basically said that "officially" he couldn't condone it, but with her pain level it wouldn't be a bad idea to try. She's got a decent cocktail now that keeps her from being beridden, but I still think a joint now and then would help her an awful lot.

As an aside: Most every legal, social and political thread (about the U.S.) just depresses me lately. Sometimes it feels like the enlightenment never happened.

(On Preview, jbrjake, that is weird- THC is delta-9-tetrahrydrocannibinol- "tetranabinex" sounds like a brand name for refined delta-9-thc. Kind of echoing what I was saying.)
posted by exlotuseater at 12:06 PM on April 22, 2005


My brother-in-law suffers from MS to the point that he is wheelchair bound 80% of the time - on a good day he can use a walker, but it's a struggle.

I was at his farm for Thanksgiving. After dinner his daughter's friends, knowing the stories of the effects of pot on MS, smoked him up rather heavily in the living room. At 55 years of age he had never consumed illegal drugs in his life.

I was in the den watching TV and was shocked when he walked, unaided, past my field of view, not once, but twice, with a big grin on his face. Shortly after that he demolished a bowl of pretzels.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:08 PM on April 22, 2005


They claim that a tolerance to the cognitive side effects quickly develops, and that since users can learn to control their own dosage, they can maximize their pain relief while remaining lucid.

I can vouch for that.

Great story, CynicalKnight. I had heard off-hand about the benefits for people with MS, but I really had no idea.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:17 PM on April 22, 2005


Marinol is a very misguided solution. If you can't even hold water down due to the chemotherapy, how in the world are you going to digest the tablets?
posted by clevershark at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2005


Brand name.

The only reason I can see why they might be able to get away with claiming that it doesn't have THE active substance in recreational marijuana is because there isn't a THE. Besides del9THC and CBD there's THCA, THCV, CBA, CBC, CBG, and CBN. And probably others.
posted by solotoro at 12:18 PM on April 22, 2005


It does not contain the active substance found in recreational cannabis and so patients taking Sativex will not become intoxicated.

Strictly, false. Practically, true.

"Dr. Philip Robson was senior lecturer in psychology at Oxford University before becoming clinical director of GW four years ago. If you were casting a tennis coach for a soap opera he would be your man: athletic and welcoming. "The bottom line is," he says in his office upstairs from the clinic, sitting beneath framed close-up photos of richly resinous marijuana buds, "if you take enough Sativex you will experience exactly the same effect you would if you were smoking a joint. But the delivery system is so different, the spike in the blood is so different - if you smoke a spliff you get this huge spike, and your plasma level of thc goes up to, say, 150 or 200 nanograms, which is quite a lot, whereas with Sativex we're operating at a level more like 4, 5, 6 nanograms. So people do avoid the high."
posted by Gyan at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2005


Opiates tend to have a really powerful impact on clarity of thought.

Yes. When my dad took the Oxycontin he was effectively comatose. Gone. Asleep. At a certain point he knew he had months to live. This is not how anyone (well, my dad in any event) wants to spend their last months. When he didn't take any of the opiates he was completely lucid but in tremendous pain. Hell of a choice, eh? I'm off the mind that any and all treatment that CAN be brought to bear should be brought to bear, if only to mitigate these types of all or none situations.

And, to the loss of appetite point made above...essentially it was the inability to eat that ended my dad's life, as he could not be put back into chemo treatment without proper nutrition. Chemo kills cells indiscriminately...you need to be robust to a degree to handle it. I'm not saying MJ would have been a magic bullet, but the fact that my dad could not legally explore the possibility is ridiculous.
posted by spicynuts at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2005


stenseng: see this. No one seems to be very sure what's legal and what isn't right now.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2005


I was in the den watching TV and was shocked when he walked, unaided, past my field of view, not once, but twice, with a big grin on his face. Shortly after that he demolished a bowl of pretzels.

That made me grin, too.
posted by salad spork at 12:25 PM on April 22, 2005


Found an interview with GW's founder.

Some interesting stuff, like:

-Sativex really is just an ethanol-based tincture, and it DOES contain all the cannabinoids solotoro lists, but only in minute amounts.

-The founder also admits that there will be some intoxication, and they expect that, and find it useful to gauge when a therapeutic dosage has been reached. They try to titrate it so blood vessels never get hit with a massive spike, which is where they claim the psychedelic experience comes from. (On preview: Gyan's got it)

-Their brand names are for their extracts, one high in THC, the other high in CBD, both from different plant strains, and combined 50/50 in Sativex.
posted by jbrjake at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2005


How does it contain THC and CBD but not "the active substance found in recreational cannabis" ?

As far as I've ever heard, the most accounted-for psychoactive substance in cannabis is THC, but the high itself is determined by the levels of various cannabinoids. Now, what I think the case may be is that they've made the extract from a strain that has a high level of CBD in comparison to the level of THC. CBD is non-psycho active and has been shown to have anti-tumor properties. It also enhances some of the effects of THC while diminishing others. So maybe by controlling the ratio they've made an extract that has minimal psychoactive effect but additional medicinal value. While it's disingenuous to say it doesn't have "the substance," (since there's more than one), it has been engineered to produce less of an effect and they word it like they do to try to distance it from recreational cannabis based on what most people know of it. (on preview: as others have suggested)
posted by nTeleKy at 12:30 PM on April 22, 2005


I was in the den watching TV and was shocked when he walked, unaided, past my field of view, not once, but twice, with a big grin on his face. Shortly after that he demolished a bowl of pretzels.

Bravo.
posted by docpops at 12:32 PM on April 22, 2005


A couple of thoughts. Why do we ascribe current moronic thinking to Puritanism? The Puritans were copacetic with their herbal remedies.
Also aspirin does increase deaths for a number of people in a number of ways, but strokes is not among them. It lowers strokes and other thrombotic events.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:35 PM on April 22, 2005


dances_with_sneetches:

Hemorrhagic strokes are increased, not thromboembolic.
posted by docpops at 12:37 PM on April 22, 2005


jbrjake: Sativex really is just an ethanol-based tincture

And you're supposed to drop this under the tongue?? The Salvia ethanol-based tincture burns, when done so.

nTeleKy: So maybe by controlling the ratio they've made an extract that has minimal psychoactive effect

Sativex is 1:1 - THC:CBD.
posted by Gyan at 12:38 PM on April 22, 2005


Heh, just found an article on GW Pharma's plans for research in the UK: Four different formulations are currently being investigated, including High THC, THC:CBD (narrow ratio), THC:CBD (broad ratio) and High CBD.

It also had this little bit of creepy: GW is also developing a specialist security technology that will be incorporated in all its drug delivery systems. This technology allows for the recording and remote monitoring of patient usage to prevent any potential abuse of its cannabis-based medicines. Remote monitoring? Do they have this for their opiates?

This article also sheds some light: With a decreasing THC content, CBD gains increasing importance concerning the overall pharmacological effects of the crude drug. A CBD/THC ratio of two or more results in a partial inhibition of these effects. With increasing CBD/ THC ratios, and depending on absolute THC content, a complete inhibition of the psychoactive effects is probably achieved.

Hemp with a THC-content lower than 1%, and also with a CBD-content higher than it’s THC, was not classified as marijuana in this analysis of 35,312 samples confiscated in the USA between 1980 and 1997, but as "ditchweed" (ElSohly 1998). As Gyan mentions (thanks for the info), Sativex would borderline qualify for this.

Breaking News: US legal system calls Sativex "ditchweed".
In Other News: "Ditchweed" apparently a legal term.
posted by nTeleKy at 1:04 PM on April 22, 2005


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but marijuana is currently illegal in Canada.

Until and if Bill C-17 passes, Current Federal Marijuana Laws apply. And even if Bill C-17 does pass, marijuana will still be illegal, but the penalties for simple possession will be drastically reduced.

Simple possession of marijuana was legal in Ontario between January 2003 and October 7th 2003. Needless to say, the summer of 2003 was Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Here's how it went down:


The Ontario Court of Appeal decided in July 2000 to strike down a federal law prohibiting the possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana. The court ruled that banning marijuana for medicinal purposes violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

One year later, Canada became the first country to adopt a system regulating the medicinal use of marijuana. But the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which went into effect July 31, 2002, didn't address the issue of recreational use.
Then, in January 2003, an Ontario judge ruled that Canada's law on possession of small amounts of marijuana was no longer valid. Windsor Justice Douglas Phillips dismissed two drug charges against a 16-year-old local boy, saying Parliament had failed to address problems with Canada's marijuana laws.
"I think it's also satisfying to know that this particular law has been declared invalid, particularly given how burdensome it is in terms of criminalizing the behaviour that hundreds of thousands of Canadians engage in," said Brian McAllister, the teen's lawyer.

Pot possession returned to the headlines within months.
In a judgement issued on Oct. 7, 2003, the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote new rules to make it easier for people who are ill to get medicinal marijuana legally, but in the process, it reinstated laws making possession of pot for social or recreational use illegal.

The Supreme Court of Canada said in a decision on Dec. 23, 2003, that Canada's laws against possessing small amounts of marijuana do not violate the Charter of Right and Freedoms and its protection of life, liberty and security of person.
A bill to change Canada's marijuana laws died in November 2003 when meetings of the Parliament were temporarily discontinued for Martin's swearing in. A year later, the Liberals reintroduced it as Bill C-17.

If the bill passes, adults caught with less than 15 grams of pot could be fined up to $400, but wouldn't have a criminal record. But the bill doubles the length of prison sentences for marijuana growers and introduces four new offences for growers.

(from here.)
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:11 PM on April 22, 2005


And since the current Canadian government's days seem to be limited, when parliament dissolves the bill C-17 will probably be swept into the garbage along with all the other legislation that's been bickered over this past year.
posted by anthill at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2005


Shortly after that he demolished a bowl of pretzels.

Just beautiful.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:34 PM on April 22, 2005


docpops: thrombotic strokes greatly outnumber hemorrhagic strokes, so in this department aspirin is by far a net good. It is recommended for lowering strokes.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:22 PM on April 22, 2005


delmoi : I'm sure MJ is great for loss of appetite. But is it really that good as a straight up pain reliever?

Yes, yes, yes. I have chronic pain conditions that, combined, can leave me a shaking ball of ouch on the bad days. Stiff, sore joints, burning sensations on the skin, impaired coordination - all that good stuff. Through doctor's prescriptions I have access to opiates strong and weak, but honestly the herb seems to have the best effects - especially on the stiffness and neuropathy. "Subpsychedelic" doses even have a definite and helpful effect.
posted by jtron at 7:41 PM on April 22, 2005


Bill C17 must die. It is an awful law. At $400 a pop, the cops will be downright eager to ticket people. That's a helluva lot worse than the current situation, in which they mostly ignore users because the paperwork involved in criminal prosecution is far, far more work than a couple of joints are worth.

Re: Sativex -- gee, it sounds just like what medical marijuana users already do: eat miniscule doses, such that they are not mentally impaired, but are physically relieved.

Gotta love the drug companies: taking the simple and cheap remedies, and making them expensive and complex.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:55 PM on April 22, 2005


five fresh fish, I totally agree: Bill C-17 will lead to more people being punished for marijuana possession... which is nonsense. I also think anthill is right: Bill C-17 ain't goin' nowhere.

It'll be interesting to see if the Liberals, corrupt as they are, can hang on by their fingernails... the priorities of a Conservative government will be to send us to war ("Yassuh, Massa Bush!")... decriminalizing a bunch of dried flowers will not be on the agenda.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:27 AM on April 23, 2005


I hope all of Canada is as terrified of a Harper government as we all seem to be.

It looks like BC's Premier might be on the way out, too. Very much to my surprise, it seems he was elected by such a slim margin last time that there's a decent chance that he'll lose this time. And here I thought there was no viable second party!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 AM on April 23, 2005


five fresh fish - totally agree with you on C-17; it'd just turn into another revenue stream for the cops.

As for the BC elections - there doesn't seem to be a viable alternative to the (rather "conservative") liberals. The NDP has thrown too much money into useless white-elephant projects, and the Greens simply aren't going to get elected (in any great numbers). I truly fear that the conservatives might make gains in BC...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:42 AM on April 23, 2005


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