Most medical cannabis research papers tend to conclude with statements along these lines: ‘positive effects of marijuana on medical patients have been demonstrated; however, further research should be conducted before such a controversial substance is fully endorsed as a medicinal treatment’. Most controversy relating to marijuana use is derived from its method of consumption: smoking. Because of the popular images and negative health-connotations surrounding the act of smoking, many scientists hold that the idea of a medicinal substance which can be smoked is not one which will be brought about unproblematically within our popular consciousness. The implication is that marijuana has been shown to be an effective medical tool, but it has not been implemented as such because it is usually smoked. It is unsurprising, therefore, that scientists have declared the need for the development of a non-smoked, fast working “cannabinoid drug delivery system” to be developed, before cannabis can be thought of a medicinal tool. Until such a time, medical patients must smoke cannabis illegally in order to treat their conditions. One example includes multiple sclerosis patients, who may use marijuana to alleviate pain caused by spasticity (muscle stiffness and spasms). Such patients are criminalized every time they smoke in an attempt to take control of their bodies and their lives.
SATIVEX - CANNABIS MEDICINE
Enter Sativex, a cannabis mouth spray produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company established in 1998 by Geoffrey Guy and Brian Whittle, for people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Although there is no treatment for multiple sclerosis itself, there are other synthetic cannabis products which aim to facilitate a normal life for patients suffering from spasticity (muscle stiffness and spasms), but these products are often problematic. Regulating and controlling dosage is difficult with a pill and it is prone to overdose (there are 4 recorded deaths from the synthetic THC pill, Marinol). These medicines allow most MS patients to live 90-95% of their normal life span, but often with negative side effects. GW started working on such medicine when they became aware that an increasing number of MS patients were smoking cannabis to alleviate their pain. Their first successful product, Sativex, was first introduced in Canada in 2005 and has recently been the subject of a £20.7m international distribution deal with Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis.
ONE OF GW PHARMA'S SATIVEX GROW ROOMS
GW Pharma currently produces up to 20 tonnes of cannabis (legally) each year to produce medicine such as Sativex. Their two cannabis farms are kept a secret and each plant is genetically fingerprinted so it can be traced when stolen. The firm requires a licence to cultivate, harvest and process its cannabis and uses armoured trucks to transport it across the UK. The medicine is comprised of the two main chemicals found in the cannabis plant: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). It is distributed in a 10ml bottle (90 sprays) and one dosage (~0.11 ml) contains 2.7 mg of THC and 2.5 mg of CBD. According to GW Pharmateuticals, the engineered balance of cannabinoids, coupled with the fact that ingested cannabis is absorbed slower than when it is smoked, ensures that patients will not get high from Sativex.
The following is quoted from the Sativex website, describing the drug’s side effects:
“The most common side effects with Sativex are dizziness and tiredness.Some people may also feel depressed or confused, may feel over-excited or lose touch with reality, may have difficulties with memory or trouble concentrating and may feel sleepy or giddy. For most people taking Sativex, these side effects are mild to moderate, last only a few hours and can be managed by changing the number of sprays or taking a short break from using the medicine. Side effects are most likely to happen when you start treatment and will often decrease as you become more used to Sativex.”
These “side effects” are identical to the “effects” of being stoned. And of course these “side effects” will decrease as you become more used to Sativex. This is called building a tolerance.
The following is quoted off Facebook from an MS patient in the UK who has been using Sativex:
“I’ve been trying to get the right dosage of Sativex for 2 weeks now to no avail. Its so frustrating…I couldn’t keep my eyes open and my vision was weird, dizzy, tired etc…I was still in a lot of pain so I kept upping the dosage (not that much tho) and i was off my little box!” (In other words, she got high).
So, Sativex gets you high, and is legally available as medicine that is made directly from the cannabis plant using the 2 main compounds, THC and CBD. It seems to help patients suffering with MS, but how does it compare to medical marijuana?
A JAR OF MEDICAL CANNABIS
Sativex VS Medical Cannabis
Medical cannabis has been very successful because it is very cheap to produce, easy to distribute and requires no special processing or packaging before being sold. The high price paid for Sativex is for the alternative delivery method to smoking cannabis – which has deterred many patients from choosing to use cannabis medication. A 10ml bottle of Sativex will cost £125 (~R1392.50) and contain 90 sprays – Normal use of the drug would cost patients £11 (~R122,50) a day. This means that at an average of 8 sprays a day, a bottle of Sativex will last 11.3 days. The insert also notes that a maximum of 12 sprays are allowed each day (50% more than normal use), which would result in a bottle lasting only 7.5 days. The price of medical cannabis varies from place to place, but it isn’t nearly as expensive as Sativex, and is essentially the same thing. Medical cannabis patients also have the option to grow their own cannabis, bringing the cost of their medicine down to only a fraction of the cost of Sativex.
A major selling point of Sativex is that it is standard in composition, formulation and dose. The two strains of cannabis used to produce Sativex are each cloned and grown for eight weeks in a computer-controlled environment: “We end up with biological material that is entirely uniform”. Cloning isn’t anything new; growers have been cloning and selectively breeding cannabis strains for decades. However, patients have found that different cannabis strains proved to be better for their specific conditions. By using Sativex, therefore, patients are not able to vary the strain that they use, as they might have done whilst using medical marijuana.
Administration (Spraying vs Smoking):
For starters, there is no question that orally ingesting cannabis is safer than smoking it in cannabis cigarettes. But cannabis does not have to be smoked in order to be consumed. Patients can use a vaporizer to administer their cannabis medication, a device which heats the plant matter up so that it activates the psychoactive compounds in the cannabis in vapour form, which patients inhale instead of harmful smoke. Another major advantage of Sativex is that it allows patients to medicate where medical marijuana patients would not normally be able to, for example, on a long haul flight, if you have all the correct paper work.
However, experiments suggest that smoked cannabis is more effective than oral THC. Smoked cannabis allows THC and other chemicals to be directly absorbed into the blood stream, whereas the liver filters ingested THC before it enters the circulatory system. In addition to being less timely, this filtering process converts THC into a more potent form of the drug and, therefore, causes stronger side effects. Just ask anyone who’s eaten one too many space cakes. That being said, each bottle of Sativex is as strong as the next so dosage and administration is easy to control – the patient knows what they’re getting.
CANNABIS MOUTH SPRAY - CONTAINS CANNABINOIDS THC AND CBD
UK biotech firm GW Pharmaceuticals has determined that cannabis is the only effective medicine that works for spasticity. Their flagship product, Sativex, offers a pricey solution for non smoking patients and there’s no doubt that this mouth spray is the safest method of cannabis consumption today and that it will enable thousands to live a normal life with MS. Still, £11 (~R122,50) a day seems like a high price to pay for maintaining a constant buzz, because let’s face it, being high is what’s providing pain relief. That’s expensive even when compared to the street prices of cannabis in an illegal market. Besides being more costly than medical cannabis, it is also less effective as a delivery method, primarily because it is ingested and also because it only contains two major chemical compounds out of the many that the cannabis plant contains. Patients who are used to smoking marijuana will find little benefit in this product, which ultimately portrays a turning point in the way the world thinks about medical cannabis.
Currently, GW is also working on medicines for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and even schizophrenia. It is heartening to see that these options are all being explored, and that medical cannabis is finally getting the credit and global attention that it deserves. Nonetheless, the prices being charged for such treatments are exorbitant, to say the least. We should also remember that there are sustainable and affordable alternatives to such treatments. Furthermore, the use of such alternative treatment avenues ensures that pharmaceutical companies are not able to gain a monopoly over this particular section of the cannabis industry
I think I will prefer mine herbal. It seems like a good idea, but look how much it would cost, please just let us be natural & all grow what ever plants we want.
NOW APPROVED IN THE UK, SPAIN, GERMANY, DENMARK, NEW ZEALAND AND CANADA.
I am an ex smoker and cannabis is much stronger now than it previously was with all the new strains out now.
I realized that before it was too late and the majority of cannabis smokers I come across are suffering bad with there chest and mental issues like paranoia and insecurities.
Would you be ok with your children smoking weed all day? I would be well pissed off that's one of the reasons I quit.
I know growers who spray there crops with pesticides ffs to get rid of mites and then pass that weed on to young people to smoke, it's bang out of order but I bet you it happens everywhere.
When you buy a smoke do you know exactly if that's been grown properly like flushed thoroughly to get rid of the chemicals, or do you know if it's been sprayed with any pesticides ? worth thinking about yeah !!
But if it can help someone who is ill recover from an illness or help someone have a better standard of life who has ms or a illness like that, then yes I'm all for it.
But in a medicinal form only as smoking is bad for you as most can relate to knowing someone who has lost there life through lung cancer caused by smoking.
Yes people can get lung cancer without smoking obviously through a gene defect hereditorily or through passive smoking that is just unfortunate.
So if your going to smoke weed at least do it in extreme moderation just like alcohol.
I don't drink alcohol either as too much of the devils juice is bad for you as well.
Just my opinion on an issue I know plenty about.
Malogg wrote:WEED has been here from ole oatcake on this planet and will be here long after man has gone .
True malogg but you got to admit, it was no way near as potent back then as it is now. That is my point. Along with other valid points I make above as well.
Hemp has many beneficial purposes as we know but rolled up in a spliff smoking it is going to catch up with you sooner or later.
That my friend I do know.
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