BY: NADIA HARRIS
Marijuana is a holistic form of medicine that has had a tumultuous history in our modern society. It has been unjustifiably mislabelled as the herbal equivalent of a shit disturber, particularly in the minds of our baby boomers. They grew up believing that it is a villain out to eat away at their brains, steal their mental virtue and common sense, all the while corrupting their pristine character. To hell with its ability to calm the anxious, heal the sick and improve one’s overall well-being; that stuff is for the Hippies, Rastafarians and wayward youth. Thankfully our collective minds have evolved with a greater understanding of the health benefits of this herb.
Marijuana is a medical diamond in the rough. A panacea dressed in poisons’ clothing. It houses hundreds of different chemicals, all of which if used correctly, is beneficial to the human body. The myriad of chemicals in the plant work synchronistically, increasing the efficacy of each constituents’ ability to heal the body. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one one of the many highly beneficial chemicals present in all forms of marijuana and it works hand in hand with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
A researcher named Antionio Zuardi wrote about the medical marvel that is CBD and its potential medical uses in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry in 2008 stating, “Studies have suggested a wide range of possible therapeutic effects of cannabidiol on several conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral ischemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory diseases, nausea and cancer.”
Cannabichromene (CBC) is prevalent in dried marijuana. According to a study conducted in 2009 from PubMed, “CBC exerts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and modest analgesic activity.” It has been known to stimulate the increase of bone properties, including density and is also an anti-carcinogenic. In 2011 a preclinical trial concluded that CBC works specifically on nerve endings above the spine, modifying sensations and degrees of pain. Its easy to see why, although there is stigma surrounding the use of marijuana, it is a medical gem that should be taken seriously, and seriously taken by our elderly.
In Canada the largest demographic of citizens who suffer from chronic pain are the elderly. They are also the largest demographic of opioid users because of this. As stated in the Canadian Drug Summary: Prescription Opioids, this group of our population has “limited access to appropriate and timely treatment: 50 per cent have had to wait six or more months and many areas of Canada do not have any specialist pain treatment services. Although prescription opioids are one of several approaches to addressing chronic pain, they can also result in addiction and overdose death.”
The First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada’s Prescription Drug Crisis Report in Short explains that, “Canada is the world’s second largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids after the United States. The International Narcotics Control Board reports that Canadians’ use of prescription opioids increased by 203 per cent between 2000 and 2010, an increase steeper than in the U.S. Some First Nations in Canada have declared a community crisis owing to the prevalence of the harms associated with prescription drugs”.
In 2014 CTV News reported that “Oxycodone prescriptions increased by 850 per cent between 1991 and 2007. Between 300 and 400 people die each year in the province from an overdose of a prescription opioid”. Until this date, there has been no reported cases ever of overdose related deaths due to the consumption of marijuana in any form. With the opioid epidemic on the rise, why are doctors choosing to be so lenient and prescription happy, doling out opioids to their patients like Santa does gifts to good children, yet so stringent and, often times judgmental, when it comes to prescribing marijuana; a drug that has been proven to effectively alleviate, and in some cases, help heal underlying conditions that cause chronic pain? A more important question is why does the government allow this? Is providing our old and sick with adequate, albeit almost certainly less profitable, medicine not a priority for the government?
And this leads to my next question. Knowing the permissive attitude that our government has towards bad practices, will the old, sick and people who generally need a pot fix still get their supply from them? Moreover, should they? Unless you’re down to your bottom dollar, odds are no. The government, in their efforts to monopolize the marijuana market are hooking and reeling people in by the promise of medical coverage under Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). They have also put forth a seemingly strong argument that marijuana provided by them is more rigidly regulated and purer; meaning that unlike what many would get from their drug dealers, medical marijuana would be free of additives and chemical alterations, which makes it a lot safer. And that’s a good thing. Well at least it would be if that were true.
When it comes to unknown substances being added to something for our consumption, or having morally objectionable genetic modifications conducted on something for our consumption, the government’s track record leaves much to be desired. The present state of our food industry is a perfect example of our governments failure to provide its citizens with “safe” food, even though it regularly goes through rigid testing and is approved by Health Canada.
Without getting too detailed about it, the food that we grow in our backyards or purchase from the Mennonite or Amish communities are far healthier, with less “unknown substances”, additives, genetic modifications, herbicides and/or pesticides.
The food that we purchase through government approved and regulated farms has led us to become a nation with a silent and deadly health crisis. Food related diseases are rampant and ever increasingly on the rise. Cancer, irritable bowl syndrome, Alzheimers, allergies, intolerances, fatigue, anxiety, obesity, depression, suicidal tendencies, malnutrition and the list goes on. Oddly enough, marijuana has been known to address most of these medical issues and is still so underutilized in the treatment of these issues. These ailments have become the norm for so many people that we are quickly forgetting that, with some exceptions, not too long ago these medical plagues were few and far between and in some cases solely seen among the elderly.
Regular consumption of pesticides and herbicides have been connected to the proliferation of, and in many cases the development of the diseases and ailments previous listed. If marijuana is allowed by the government of Canada to be saturated with these toxic substances (which they are), how then will the “medical marijuana” still be able to claim that it is medicinal? There is no encouragement or incentive provided by the government for farmers to utilize natural methods of pest or invasive herb control, therefore the marijuana presently sold to our old and sick is heavily laced with poisons.
All sixty-seven legal marijuana producers in Canada have been given the go ahead by Health Canada to use seven different pesticides. Seven! All of these have been given the label of safe to consume. Interestingly enough there is a convenient lack of research done on how these “safe to consume” unnatural pesticides react to temperature alterations. Minor changes in temperature can cause significant changes in the properties of some chemicals. When marijuana is dried, smoked, vaped, cooked or steeped there is a change in its chemical composition that when taken correctly and in moderation has been proven safe for human consumption, but the same cannot be said for the pesticides that lace it.
Aside from the toxins that are allowed to coat and permeate government supplied marijuana, the grapevine has been abuzz with the news that genetically modified marijuana is already being distributed to Canadians, but there is no real evidence to back up that claim. The fact that there was “no evidence” that smoking caused cancer just over fifty years ago does not, as we have all come to learn, mean that there is no correlation between smoking cigarettes developing cancer.
If the government continues to be so permissive with toxic consumption practices, what then will happen to the people who are reliant upon marijuana; particularly our seniors or people with weakened immune systems when they consume this legally corrupted, so called “medical marijuana”. When a herb with such potential for good is so corrupted, the explosion of medical complications and potentially new medical diseases is a scary and sadly realistic prospect.
As if that wasn’t enough, Monsanto the villain of the pesticide/herbicide community has thrown their hat into the medical marijuana ring in other countries. They have already created a GMO monstrosity masking as marijuana that is being sold in Uruguay. As with so many other products that Monsanto has peddled, they always seem to find their way into Canadian soil. It is only a matter of time before our government allows Monsanto to infect our nation. This is the same company who almost single-handedly decimated North America’s bee population, and is credited with a rise of allergies in young people nation-wide. These unethical practices are one of the many reasons why getting your marijuana from the government isn’t the best of ideas.
One might argue that much like our food and modern day medicines, it is too expensive to purchase anything that isn’t covered by the government. To that I say, when it comes to cannabis, that’s not entirely true.
In municipalities like Toronto, there has been an explosion of marijuana clinics that have acquired their supplies through various sources. Their supplies include GMO and pesticide free strains. Strains that have variations in THC and CBC levels to better accommodate a wider range of ailments. They also have package deals and discounts to accommodate their customers’ varying financial situations. Canna Clinic is one such place. According to Beatrice – a staff member at the clinic – in an effort to educate and accurately assist their clientele they provide in depth one-on-one consultations. One can simply speak to their sales associates, referred to as budtenders, who are very knowledgeable about their products and how best to utilize them.
Aside from these benefits, customer observations convey that there is a level of comfort that is felt when obtaining marijuana through a clinic, as opposed to the government. For one, they are not discriminated against. A common story among marijuana users is the discomfort and frustration they feel when faced with a doctor’s discrimination against them. It is not uncommon for their dealer, pardon me, their doctor to push more dangerous forms of medicine, regardless of its efficacy, and despite their unwillingness to take something that they could easily become addicted to.
Another benefit to clinics is their clients’ ability to feel and smell their medicine prior to purchasing it. There is no wait time between the process of ordering and receiving, unlike with government provided medical marijuana, which must be ordered and then delivered. Clinics offer a wide variety of options. Some offer edibles, oils and prepackaged teas. These options are preferable for many seniors, since smoking is not always feasible or even desirable due to their beliefs, health or both.
Aside from this, the advantage that clinics have above government supplied marijuana, particularly for senior citizens, is that they can provide a feeling of independence. Many seniors suffer from a lack of worthiness due to a sense of dependency and hopelessness. Too many feel as though they are a burden. Being able to do something for themselves medically, on their terms, gives them a sense of control, which is one of the things that so many seniors who fall into depression say that they feel they have so little of. The simple act of being able to execute ones choice is a form of medicine all on its own.
While on the topic of independence, there is another option – grow your own. This can be done through the government of Canada by becoming a licensed grower, but you must follow government laid rules of how to do so. Then there is the good ol’ fashioned way. Acquiring seeds of ones own choosing that correlate with the type of ailment that is being addressed and plant them in the backyard, greenhouse, by the windowsill or using a hydroponic system to grow them wherever the mood strikes. Any of these ways works well and will leave the producer in charge of whatever they consume.
The benefits of using marijuana for medicinal purposes for our elderly population is an issue that carries just as much weight as the dangers of consuming government monopolized marijuana.