Researching the Health Effects of Marijuana

Researching the Health Effects of Marijuana
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Politics, prejudice, and pressure coming from both sides adds to the complexity of cannabis research.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Why is there such a “dearth of rigorous research on the effects of marijuana”? The first major study wasn’t published until 2007. “Why did it take so long?…Why did the pharmaceutical industry fail to show any interest? Some might prefer a simple answer; since [it’s] just [a plant], it can[’t] be patented [for your stockholders], thus removing any incentive for investing…corporate funds.” Yes, but it’s more complicated than just that.

There are research funds available—a hundred million dollars of public money in a single year—but, historically, that money was generally “obtainable only for research on the negative effects.” See, in the U.S., cannabis is still officially lumped in with heroin as “a Schedule I drug”—which means, by definition, it’s classified by the government to have no medicinal value, a designation that “resulted in a near-cessation of scientific research, particularly” since the only way researchers could get it without risking jail time is a state-run farm in Mississippi, controlled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has historically only greenlighted research aimed at “demonstrating…harmful effects.”

“Residents of 23…states can” walk out and just buy it, “but US scientists must wade through onerous paperwork,” and even when they do get it, it’s the wrong stuff; it’s not what people are actually using these days. The studies coming out are on like your grandma’s grass, a few percent THC, whereas the stuff available these days may be ten times more potent.

So, there’s like this crazy “catch-22 [where] the cannabis that should be studied…is illegal and the cannabis that can be legally studied—the decades-old Mississippi strain—is essentially kept off-limits.” So, “[i]ll-informed practitioners are thus left to make do with” like, anecdotes off the internet, like everybody else, which is bad medicine.

“As long as clinical research on cannabis is controlled by regulators expressly opposed to” the stuff, we miss out on the potential benefits. That’s no excuse, though. Just because there are “[p]olitical barriers” to research doesn’t mean we should lower our bar in terms of demanding evidence. “The sick still need medically sound treatments.”

Of course, now there’s pressure coming from both sides. The marijuana industry is now big business, and with those billions, can rally the troops. “Cannabis researchers already talk of being bombarded with e­mails from pro­-cannabis groups if they [dare] make [any] negative comments about the drug. ‘Marijuana research is like tobacco research in the ’60s,’ says [one University of Colorado researcher].” So now, there’s fear big money will push the pendulum too far the other way.

But the barriers go beyond money, and politics, and prejudice. Cannabis research is hard to do. I mean, how do you do a double-blind study with marijuana? People know when they’ve been duped with placebo dope. People can tell the difference between pot brownies and regular brownies; otherwise, they wouldn’t eat them. And so, if you know you’re getting the active drug, the placebo effect can kick in hard, notes one neurobiology researcher, especially when you’re dealing with subjective outcomes, like pain or mood.

And, imagine if you’re trying to do a population study on memory or cognitive impairment, and you’re asking heavy pot smokers to try to remember how much they’ve been smoking over their life. I mean, you can imagine how that might “influence data accuracy.”

Let me give you an example of how convoluted this can get. Neuropsychological testing of cannabis users have found residual negative effects, in terms of scoring slightly lower on memory tests. But how do we know it’s not a matter of motivation, rather than actual cognitive impairment? That had never been tested, until this study. They gave a group of potheads a standard learning test and just gave the standard shpiel, you know: “Please complete the following series of tasks which measure different areas of cognition, like memory and attention.” That’s what you’d normally say, and when you do, pot smokers score significantly worse. Ah, but what if you instead said this: “Please complete the following series of tasks… It is important that you try your very best on these tasks, because this research will be used to support legislation on marijuana policy.” So, hey, if you do good, they might decriminalize weed or something. And, under those circumstances, boom: the apparent cognitive impairment disappears.

Now, you could argue that lack of motivation is a problem in and of itself. But, hey, it’s better than having long-term brain damage.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: BRICK 101 via Flickr. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Why is there such a “dearth of rigorous research on the effects of marijuana”? The first major study wasn’t published until 2007. “Why did it take so long?…Why did the pharmaceutical industry fail to show any interest? Some might prefer a simple answer; since [it’s] just [a plant], it can[’t] be patented [for your stockholders], thus removing any incentive for investing…corporate funds.” Yes, but it’s more complicated than just that.

There are research funds available—a hundred million dollars of public money in a single year—but, historically, that money was generally “obtainable only for research on the negative effects.” See, in the U.S., cannabis is still officially lumped in with heroin as “a Schedule I drug”—which means, by definition, it’s classified by the government to have no medicinal value, a designation that “resulted in a near-cessation of scientific research, particularly” since the only way researchers could get it without risking jail time is a state-run farm in Mississippi, controlled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has historically only greenlighted research aimed at “demonstrating…harmful effects.”

“Residents of 23…states can” walk out and just buy it, “but US scientists must wade through onerous paperwork,” and even when they do get it, it’s the wrong stuff; it’s not what people are actually using these days. The studies coming out are on like your grandma’s grass, a few percent THC, whereas the stuff available these days may be ten times more potent.

So, there’s like this crazy “catch-22 [where] the cannabis that should be studied…is illegal and the cannabis that can be legally studied—the decades-old Mississippi strain—is essentially kept off-limits.” So, “[i]ll-informed practitioners are thus left to make do with” like, anecdotes off the internet, like everybody else, which is bad medicine.

“As long as clinical research on cannabis is controlled by regulators expressly opposed to” the stuff, we miss out on the potential benefits. That’s no excuse, though. Just because there are “[p]olitical barriers” to research doesn’t mean we should lower our bar in terms of demanding evidence. “The sick still need medically sound treatments.”

Of course, now there’s pressure coming from both sides. The marijuana industry is now big business, and with those billions, can rally the troops. “Cannabis researchers already talk of being bombarded with e­mails from pro­-cannabis groups if they [dare] make [any] negative comments about the drug. ‘Marijuana research is like tobacco research in the ’60s,’ says [one University of Colorado researcher].” So now, there’s fear big money will push the pendulum too far the other way.

But the barriers go beyond money, and politics, and prejudice. Cannabis research is hard to do. I mean, how do you do a double-blind study with marijuana? People know when they’ve been duped with placebo dope. People can tell the difference between pot brownies and regular brownies; otherwise, they wouldn’t eat them. And so, if you know you’re getting the active drug, the placebo effect can kick in hard, notes one neurobiology researcher, especially when you’re dealing with subjective outcomes, like pain or mood.

And, imagine if you’re trying to do a population study on memory or cognitive impairment, and you’re asking heavy pot smokers to try to remember how much they’ve been smoking over their life. I mean, you can imagine how that might “influence data accuracy.”

Let me give you an example of how convoluted this can get. Neuropsychological testing of cannabis users have found residual negative effects, in terms of scoring slightly lower on memory tests. But how do we know it’s not a matter of motivation, rather than actual cognitive impairment? That had never been tested, until this study. They gave a group of potheads a standard learning test and just gave the standard shpiel, you know: “Please complete the following series of tasks which measure different areas of cognition, like memory and attention.” That’s what you’d normally say, and when you do, pot smokers score significantly worse. Ah, but what if you instead said this: “Please complete the following series of tasks… It is important that you try your very best on these tasks, because this research will be used to support legislation on marijuana policy.” So, hey, if you do good, they might decriminalize weed or something. And, under those circumstances, boom: the apparent cognitive impairment disappears.

Now, you could argue that lack of motivation is a problem in and of itself. But, hey, it’s better than having long-term brain damage.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: BRICK 101 via Flickr. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Doctor's Note

As difficult as cannabis research can be, there have been hundreds of studies published. Find out what a major recent review found in my last video, The Institute of Medicine Report on the Health Effects of Marijuana. And if you want to learn more, I made a whole DVD of cannabis research for those interested in a deep dive.

The cannabis issue reminds me of a similar clash of politics and commercial interests in the cell phone debate. If you’re interested, check out my videos Does Cell Phone Radiation Cause Cancer? and Cell Phone Brain Tumor Risk?

And Merry Christmas!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

95 responses to “Researching the Health Effects of Marijuana

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  1. Interesting stuff. I am sad to see so much talk around about cannabis as a whole and yet not looking specifically at the cannabidiol (CBD) component.




    15
    1. John, you are obsessed with people becoming drug addicts because of the legalization of marijuana and our country will be doomed and taken over by the Muslims and Russian and Chinese.

      FYI, 11 or our past Presidents from Lincoln to Reagan had smoked pot.

      But for medical marijuana, I don’t wish you bad luck but I like to see when you will get sick, will you start to smoke pot if it has possibly a cure or relief? This will be your unbiased opinion.




      4
      1. I’m not sure what you mean but I will elaborate my thoughts.

        From what I’ve read, when CBD is studied in isolation from THC there is largely no negative effects found. On the contrary, CBD seems to have a wide range of positive effects, aside from help with epilepsy, such as help with mental disease and even cognition.

        When THC is involved the results seem mixed. I’m not saying THC is bad, but I am saying that I am more interested in the positive effects, especially because CBD is not psychoactive.

        Also, I would never smoke pot if I have other options such as vaporization.




        9
        1. You need to get through the stigma that THC may cause addiction and people to be high. First of all, it may not based on the dosage and secondly if you have a serious medical condition, do you care?

          Then depending on the medical conditions, sometimes THC is needed in combination with CBD.

          The following videos explain in layman terms about CBD and THC. They also talk about the dosage and the type of medical cannabis to use, which is provided by the State dispensaries where marijuana is legalized. And I think that states allow recreational marijuana because in order to buy medical marijuana, you need a prescription from a medical doctor, and some people may treat themselves without seeing a doctor and so they can buy recreational marijuana for their purpose.

          And don’t accuse me of reading stuff on the Internet like certain people like to do. There are plenty of scientific articles, just google for “cannabis THC NCBI” but the following videos explain in layman terms.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=124&v=Y9wr5kpEFyA

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vahhK-TR6Q&t=901s

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKkZEL6qfGk&t=1228s




          2
          1. Perhaps you could link to some NCBI studies instead of videos?

            As I said, I’ve very briefly looked over the literature and have seen many positive things with regard to CBD but not so with THC. Also the fact that it is not psychoactive is very appealing.




            0
            1. The dosage of THC for therapeutic purpose is much lower than when smoking weed. In a lot of treatments. an equal amount if CBD and THC is used. Again, you have to weigh in between the consequences of a medical condition versus the side effects of a drug. When someone has cancer or severe autism spectrum or epilepsy, the least to worry about is addiction.

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3442177/

              Side effects
              Cannabis and individual cannabinoid receptor agonists (dronabinol, nabilone) show very similar, albeit not identical, side effects (14). Drug users smoke cannabis principally because of the psychoactive effects that occur at doses above the individual consumer’s psychotropic threshold. These acute effects are generally perceived as pleasurable and relaxing. Sensory perception is often heightened. However, the feeling of increased wellbeing can give way to dysphoria, and anxiety or panic may occur. Further acute psychoactive effects of cannabinoids are impairment of memory, reductions in psychomotor and cognitive performance, disordered perception of the passage of time, and euphoria.

              The debate continues as to whether high consumption of cannabis has long-term consequences on cognitive performance. On the basis of the current data it can be assumed that only extremely high consumption at levels hardly ever used for therapeutic purposes leads to irreversible cognitive impairments (15, 16). It seems quite clear, however, that the risk is much higher in children and adolescents (particularly before puberty). Therefore, the advisability of (long-term) treatment of patients in this age group with cannabinoids must be weighed up very carefully (Box 2).




              4
              1. So, the cases you list (cancer or severe autism spectrum or epilepsy), where the worry of addiction or negative side effects are not comparable to the severity of the condition, would typically be diagnosed by a medical doctor. Therefore, I’m not sure this supports the notion of legalization of non-prescription THC.

                On the other hand, CBD, in my view, has a very strong case for non-prescription legalization.




                0
                1. I never advocated smoking anything and I never smoked even a cigarette in my life.Having said so, marijuana legalization is the least concern compared to addiction of more dangerous drugs, in particular FDA approved narcotic drugs, and the legalization of gambling. And we have much more serious problems and crimes in our country than smoking marijuana. And btw, legalizing marijuana does not mean you are free to grow and to sell unless you buy from state dispensaries, which is tightly controlled.

                  And last, you attempt to stroke fear of the legalization of marijuana by mixing with Islam, Muslim, Sharia law, terrorism, twisted news about the mayor of London, China, Russia, etc.




                  0
                  1. It seems to me Jerry Lewis, that you don’t necessarily even believe what you post. You just get your kicks out of irritating people. Pretty sad.




                    14
          2. Jerry, not sure where you are getting that John is obsessed with people becoming addicts, etc. unless you are replying to something in other responses?
            But myself who has breast cancer and COPD with lung function that was last tested at only 19% and has gotten worse since this test a year ago.
            Getting high does matter to me, as I tried a capsule of oil for the breast cancer and it got me way too high so there is no way I could function at work etc. until I built up a tolerance as some claim that you can do- but I refused not thinking about building up tolerance. The source also matters to me as I don’t want something that has been sprayed with toxic chemicals. Later, after breathing getting worse and learning about Jeff Waters COPD testimony I was ready to try again so I push for legislation on legalized medical marijuana. Meanwhile I have learned about CBD oil from Hemp which has no more or less than .03 THC which is legal so I tried one bottle with understanding I could return for refund in 30 days. It took 1 1/2 weeks but it does help a pinch, with inflammation in airways and anxiety when struggling to breathe. This is nothing like the improvement with Jeff Waters COPD with the THC which is what I really would like to try to see if I could get similar results as even with inhalers, oxygen, I still can’t mow the yard and can struggle going up the stairs and walking long distances to the car after work. It can be a very scary thing for people with very low lung function.
            Even now, I still would not want to get high like that capsule of oil got me, but would be willing to try a rice size dot of oil under tongue before going to bed to see if I could tolerate that much and build up tolerance. I have heard the suppositories don’t get people high so that is another option for us who really don’t like getting high but have a need for the medical marijuana that includes the THC.
            .




            0
          3. You need to get through the stigma that THC may cause addiction and people to be high

            While I agree there is a largely unwarranted stigma surrounding THC, and marijuana in general, THC can cause psychological addiction and THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Let’s not fool ourselves.




            0
            1. Personally, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a psychological addiction to anything. It’s all electro/chemical with the benchmark as opiates being the strongest addiction. What is the min. I don’t know. But, just because something is not as powerful with side effects such as an opiate it doesn’t mean something such as sugar, chocolate, gambling is not addictive, which they are called psychological. Marijuana is addictive physically and not psychologically. There is no such thing as far as I’m concerned and many scientist are believing that.




              0
  2. What amazes me is that in the late 1900’s and early 1900’s in England, Scotland, and the USA, pharmacopeias constantly praised extracts of canabis and preventing convulsions and EPILEPSY — professors and medical doctors spoke of this frequently – it was used with great success but now I never hear of thios? Any idea why?




    2
    1. Because it is a plant, it can’t be patented and the drug companies can’t make money off it. Marinol is a synthetic THC and is a patented drug sold by drug companies. It is prescribed to AIDS patients and cancer patients who need to increase their appetites.




      9
      1. Actually the extraction and process of cannabis compounds can be patented. This is not a simple thing as just to smoke pot.

        The reason that nobody wants to touch it in the USA has to do with the political backlash and the stigma of marijuana and cannabis is still illegal as the Federal level.

        Israel is now working on several cannabis drugs, some of which they will apply for FDA approval in 2018. You may buy the next Israel cannabis drug.

        The USA is sticking its head in the sand because of paranoid people like John and Steve (ahem).




        2
  3. My wife is a brilliant PhD Scientist and has been taking multi dose daily CBD & THC with absolutely no negative side effects for months.

    What has happened? She is sleeping an additional 90 minutes per night, her pain from a chronic arm injury is 90% gone, her mood is much smoother and she is going great at work. 6 months in.




    17
  4. Now that Christmas is over, I will reword my above 2 comments: in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s almost every pharmacopeia claimed that cannabis had been used to prevent convulsions and EPILEPSY. Today, however, I never hear about this use of marijuana and I am curious about “why not?”




    0
    1. “By the time the federal government passed the Marihuana Tax Act in [Oct.] 1937, every state had already enacted laws criminalizing the possession and sale of marijuana. The federal law, which was structured in a fashion similar to the 1914 Harrison Act, maintained the right to use marijuana for medicinal purposes but required physicians and pharmacists who prescribed or dispensed marijuana to register with federal authorities and pay an annual tax or license fee…

      After the passage of the Act, prescriptions of marijuana declined because doctors generally decided it was easier not to prescribe marijuana than to deal with the extra work imposed by the new law.”

      Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, PhD “State Medical Marijuana Laws: Understanding the Laws and Their Limitations,” Journal of Public Health Policy, 2002




      5
    2. In the UK chemists do not have Iodine of sale though at one time it was widely used as of proven benefit in many afflictions,fortunately readily available on line. My wife has used topicaly to eliminate a breast lump lugol’s iodine mixed 50/%50 with DMSO. with Doctors instead prescribe expensive patented alternatives. As always follow the money if you wish to understand how the medical system works.




      1
        1. We buy from Ebay. Local chemists do not sell, one elderly chemist told me they used to sell as a useful multifactorial cure all years ago but Chemists do not supply any more and he did not know why. Doctor wont prescribe,the drug industry is no doubt instrumental in this. When I inquired if the medical system would dispose of what is left in I donated organs I was told the NHS is not allowed to they send the remains back for the next of kin to pay for burial or cremation,same thing ‘follow the money’. Years ago Geoffrey Cannon wrote a book called ‘The Politics of food’ giving the tentacles between politicians and big food companies,same thing! Problem with Cannabis debate is the modern high potency plants are causing the problems the original plant did not,…again follow the money!




          0
  5. all too typical insane, illogical hypocrisy-alcohol and tobacco which kill countless tens of thousands of people every year are legal yet cannabis which has never been documented to have caused the death of anyone is considered as harmful as heroin. and we like to consider ourselves a sane and rational species, lol!

    btw, since it is Dec 25 i would like to share one of my favorite quotes which is in the same vein when it comes the logical consistency (or lack thereof) of homo sapiens:

    “Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed. Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”~ David Coates




    41
    1. “Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed. Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”~ David Coates

      I’m sorry for your sad mood… I guess a simple Happy Holidays! wouldn’t help so I won’t offer. Perhaps a joint would help?




      1
    2. Don’t forget their endless wars and propensity for over-population. But the “whiney” season makes up for it all…don’t you know. It’s a wonderful life…




      1
    1. Right on Phil! When you eat a whole food, plant based diet, and have temperance in lifestyle you don’t get sick in the first place. There are no short cuts to good health, and there is no such thing as a magic drug to make everything better – as many so desperately seek.

      Addiction sucks, but in the beginning it’s fun; slowly it sneaks up on you, eventually a person becomes a slave to the habit. To the degree you love a drug, to that same degree it will make you it’s slave! Best to never get started.




      9
      1. Re: Right on Phil! When you eat a whole food, plant based diet, and have temperance in lifestyle you don’t get sick in the first place.

        Add the word “likely”.

        There are plenty of sick true vegans, especially at old age.

        Your diet is deficient to start with, unless you spend your day eating various plant foods.

        Add the misconception about certain foods that vegans tend to have.




        1
        1. Hmmm. Any diet – omnivorous or vegetarian – can be deficient. You yourself report taking many supplements so you must believe that your diet is deficient also. And the data indicate that over 98% of US diets are deficient in potassium. People eating a WFPB diet are very unlikely to be among those 98+% of Americans, because by definition they eat a lot of whole plant foods. Unlike most omnivores.
          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/3/647.long

          Hundreds of opinionated cranks on the internet – many of them selling fad diet books and associated pills and potions of various kinds – may loudly say that so-called “vegan” diets are deficient. That doesn’t make it true. Like many of their other claims, this statement deceives by omission because, while some “vegan” diets are, by no means all of them are. The scientists, researchers and nutritionists who have actually examined this matter have concluded that well-planned completely vegetarian diets are healthy and meet all nutritional requirements.
          https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-5/

          “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704

          The other side of that particular coin is, of course, that many diets contain too many unhealthy foods containing for example high levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, refined carbohydrates etc. Alongside deficiencies in micronutrients such as potassium.

          Unfortunately, your obsessive desire to denigrate Dr Greger, NutritionFacts, veganism and established medical facts, like the role of dietary saturated fat and blood cholesterol levels in elevating chronic disease risk, blinds you to these realities. Or at least causes you to parrot unscientific assertions like this that you find on the websites of snake oil merchants and cranks, which you know are highly misleading.




          15
          1. TG,
            Thanks for your continuing intelligent posts in this comments section. You are one of the main reasons I keep reading the comments section.here rather than just watching the videos.




            7
    2. “to allow more harmful drugs to become legal” Honestly Phil, you obviously haven’t done your research when it comes to MJ if you call it “harmful.” I’m 71 years old, never taken a “puff” of any kind of cigarette or joint. Marijuana should never have been classified as a harmful drug, do your research!




      1
  6. I thought it was interesting that back in the ’70s Nixon commissioned a study on MJ… The Shafer Commission… They said it should be legalized. The commission’s recommendation was not implemented. The biggest problem found was persistent erythema to the sclera of the eye…
    THE DREDED RED EYE!!!!! OMG!!
    The study did not go along with Mr Nixon’s political agenda and was made a schedule one drug like Heroin.. uggh.
    m




    6
  7. This absolutely cracks me up. It suggests that all these written tests are as inaccurate as the College Boards or any other test that relies on one view of what is normal, leaving out all of the “others” who don’t think the way the testers do. I, for one, am beginning to feel that anything can be proved by science, good or bad, by just such thumbs on the scale. We know about funding as one clear way to bias the findings. Have we found another here? That subjects may need special instructions in order to give their best on such tests? And how many psych studies have similar problems?




    2
    1. Anything can be asserted or claimed by people who may cleverly obscure the actual data and evidence. So its not really proven until reviewed many times until the credible controversy fades to insignificance. The big review in the previous video showed little conclusive proof of harm by marijuana. Some association with testicular cancer risk, not on the level of ‘this is your brain on drugs’.




      0
  8. Persons under the influence of cannabis experience periods of ‘high’. Which includes blank periods of contiousness Meaning their reactions to normal situations such as operating machinery, driving cars increases the risk of accidents. The legalisation of this drug will result in another substance freely available to persons of 18 years or more with all the attendant risks such as alcohol present.




    11
    1. such as operating machinery, driving cars increases the risk of accidents

      I agree… ban marijuana until self driving cars arrive. Then, whatever one does in the privacy of their own home or the backseat of a driverless car is their own business. ‘-)




      3
      1. Is that how you would raise your own kids?

        I suppose that sounds good on the surface (just do whatever you want mentality), until you look a little deeper. These types become a huge drain on society, and how do you suppose they get cash for their drugs and cost of living when no one wants to hire them?

        We are one thousand times better off keeping in illegal. The numbers of people smoking dope are already on the rise, and it will just keep going that way.




        4
        1. I think I see a different future than you. I actually see a need for something to pacify the masses as robots and A I (artificial intelligence) are going to do away with many jobs.

          I kinda subscribe to the theory that we are going to need fewer and fewer workers, and until the excess population dies off (and birth rates drop) we need a way to de-incentivize people from being too ambitious. Marijuana has promise as being the perfect pacifier for the unemployed to stick in their mouth.

          And yes, we will have to adopt a policy of a guaranteed wage so these folk won’t have to turn to illegal ways of existing. Marijuana is in a sense, the new Soylent Green.




          3
          1. More companies are turning to automation (robots) for new jobs. If they can’t find cheaper labor in 3rd world countries…they will go to automation.

            The repatriated money from the new tax law will be used mostly to buy automation and support stock levels…and of course bonuses for the higher level employees.

            As to what happens to those left behind? A dystopian future? No jobs…no future. Endless ads showing them the stuff they could have…

            Hate to be so optimistic…




            5
  9. Love your contributions to real science of health CARE. Hopefully someday, our medical system transforms from sick-CARE to HEALTH-care. Megabucks and powers are at play in every field of for profit system vs. for productive, sustainable, happy lives for all.




    2
  10. Good to see that Dr G is looking at cannabis as a potential drug to treat diseases.

    But I don’t agree on the emphasis of side effects such as memory loss. There are 2 things, first we have to look at medical cannabis and not recreational cannabis, and medical cannabis may not be addictive or create side effects because it depends on the compounds that are extracted, and secondly cannabis needs to be looked at like a drug to treat certain diseases and side effects are acceptable such as in FDA approved drugs.

    You have to weigh in between the consequences of the disease, and the potential side effects. If you have cancer for instance, should you worry about long term memory loss?




    4
  11. The Israelis have been doing much research on the medical benefits of marijuana and finding out amazing things. They don’t have our odd hang-ups and preconceived notions which put mega obstacles in the way of anyone doing this research.




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  12. There is a type of cannabis that is the uncooked raw vegetable, which apparently tastes bad and doesn’t get you high. However, many scientists have studied it and determined that it is a very healthy vegetable that you can grow in your yard. I already eat several other bad tasting healthy vegetables and I have found ways to make them at least tolerable. It’s called cuisine. I am interested in this as long as my kids don’t steal it and smoke it.




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  13. I’ve lived long enough (I’m in middle 80’s) to closely see many others who partake in MJ. They admittedly don’t have seizures or pain or anxiety and I’ve asked many of them why they use it. They tell me rudely to butt out,- they said they enjoy the ‘feeling.’ I ask why go and hide out several times a day to use it (they say they know it is wrong but can’t quit the ‘feeling’). They have family members that want them to stop MJ so they hide out. They admitted to me that they do it more and more depending on the money and source they have. They use an excuse that it’s not a very good product or batch so they have to do it more frequently. This tells me that the body has a tolerance factor and as it gets use to MJ you need more of the product to get the same feeling. Now don’t beat me up over my comment, but I’ve been WFPB person and no I do not like ALL whole plant based foods but I still eat them for nourishment reasons, not for the ‘feeling’. I want my attention factor working and not blunted and dumb down by MJ. . Please don’t drive your car during and after use. Think of your family and children. Be a role model. The mindset that it does no harm is incorrect. Thanks for listening.




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  14. I no longer take any Big Pharma drugs and eat 100% organic and use Cannabis on a daily basis, I built a beautiful gate while using Cannabis that everyone just loves. No it does not make you stupid or kill brain cells. Check out the Sacred Plant and Learn Green Flower for the facts based on scientific evidence.




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  15. Smoking Marijuana promotes heart disease. Just clean out your pipe or bong to see the tar (oil) buildup taking place in your arteries.

    What happened to…”No Oil”…?




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  16. Dr. Greger:

    How about an RCT with a control and experimental group, given active THC or cannabis at a sub-threshold dose (ie. enough for physiological effects, but below the threshold for hallucinogenic effects)? That could allow for researchers to actually look at a control versus treatment group for various measures.

    Great video, thanks!




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  17. What are your thoughts about Kratom– it is an up and coming issue that is so easily available and has been used for ‘years’ around the world. I know this is not the topic being discussed but the parents I’m in contact with talk about it and not in a favorable way. I’ve read up on it just to see what I can learn. I’ve been told when MJ is not available they use Kratom and now use both. I again asked how they ‘feel’ and they love it, my old generation hate it. I was hesitant about mentioning this as it could give others an ‘idea’ to try it. Yes, I’m very old and I certainly understand the value of researching ingredients for possible help with medical problems. As for me, I’ll keep at my WFPB nourishment– it was Dr. mcDougall that got me into it many years ago and now both Dr G and Dr Mc . Thanks for reading. Be well–that’s what it is all about. Healthy New Year!




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    1. According to the FDA

      “There’s clear data on the increasing harms associated with kratom. Calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding kratom have increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2015, with hundreds of calls made each year. The FDA is aware of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of kratom-containing products. There have been reports of kratom being laced with other opioids like hydrocodone. The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms.”

      https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm584970.htm




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  18. It amazes me how so many people can believe we have been lied to about food and pharmaceuticals by our government, but not about cannabis. While it’s not a totally harmless substance, it’s far less harmful than most prescription medication, and most over the counter drugs. It’s a plant, and a darned good whole food plant as well as a medicine.
    As for the CBD craze, once again, we’re getting away from the “whole plant “ philosophy there, aren’t we? How many examples in life do you need to see to realize that concept applies across all paradigms, not just to the food we eat. It’s been proven numerous times, scientifically, that whole plant cannabis is far more effective than any of it’s individual compounds. The website “Project CBD” https://www.projectcbd.org is an excellent place to research CBD, THC, and all things related to cannabis medicine, and they reference many pub med studies. Raphael Mechoulam is name to research as well if you want to know more. Regarded as the grandfather of cannabis medicine, he is a scientist in Israel who has made many important discoveries about how cannabis works in the body and the mind.
    I encourage you to educate yourself rather than spread dogma that helps no one. I’ve seen too many marijuana haters suddenly get sick or have a loved one get sick, then do a complete 180 and suddenly realize how deadly their former way of thinking actually is. Don’t be one of those people.
    I was saved from a certain death from opioids by cannabis almost a decade ago, and now it’s still helping with the daily symptoms of the CRPS and Lupus that I have to deal with. The holistic nature of it’s healing power, and the community surrounding it lead me to a WFPB lifestyle about 5 years ago, and I’m slowly improving when I was told it would only get worse.
    Dr. Greger does a fine job, but like many, his focus is too narrow, and he’s still hung up on double blind studies, peer reviewed studies, and all the other extremely manipulated data that’s currently being put out by our reductionist scientific communities in food and medicine. It’s a complete money game. Expand your thinking, get beyond all that drivel that’s designed to confuse you and take your money. Trust in nature the way God has presented it to us. The thought that we can do it better is the ultimate hubris.
    This is what 60 years on earth with 10 years of iatrogenic suffering has taught me, and I’m learning more daily and open to a lot more. I continue to follow this website for it’s contribution to my knowledge base, but I don’t accept it all as gospel, especially when it deals with things beyond their expertise and experience. Would you take dietary advice from a grossly obese person? Again, I encourage you to do your own research. Learn how to tell good information from bad.




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    1. “As for the CBD craze, once again, we’re getting away from the “whole plant “ philosophy there, aren’t we? How many examples in life do you need to see to realize that concept applies across all paradigms, not just to the food we eat. It’s been proven numerous times, scientifically, that whole plant cannabis is far more effective than any of it’s individual compounds.”

      I’m interested to hear you elaborate on these points. I don’t take it as a given that just because it is so in the realm of plant foods that it must be so in the realm of a THC involved psychoactive substance.




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      1. Actually, to add onto my idea, there are limits even in the realm of food. For example, certain fruit seeds and pits. So the point your making is kind of lost on me. We assign rational boundaries to what should be consumed as a whole food. Largely the comparison is made to contrast processed with unprocessed foods as I understand it.




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        1. You’re overthinking it again. You wouldn’t eat the seeds of an apple anymore than the stalk of a cannabis plant. I eat minimally processed plant foods also, like soy milk, so a little common sense needs to be applied. It’s all about balance in the end. Our bodies are not equipped to deal with the isolated compounds invented by man, or extracted and isolated from plants.
          Once again, do a little reading of your own on the links I provided and you’ll find more answers than I can provide.




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            1. Many vitamin supplements are whole plant material ground and put into a capsule, including the few that I take. Again, you’re painting with a broad brush and twisting words, just like a troll.
              I’m done, educate yourself.




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              1. My point was you can’t just take this “whole foods” philosophy and dogmatically apply it to cannabis without *reason*. And you seemed to agree with me in your previous post saying “a little common sense needs to be applied”.




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        1. Well apparently, after linking to its own website it does afterward link to some studies.

          I have a question though, if we agree (which I’m not sure we do) that the THC induced “antinociceptive, hypothermic, and cataleptic effects” are a good thing, and that CBD can mitigate the negative effects of THC, then shouldn’t the conversation be tuned towards acceptable ratio levels of THC to CBD. I don’t see much talk of this around.




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          1. There is a lot of discussion about proper CBD:THC ratios, and how to find your own dose. You’ll never see them by just skimming websites. If you’re having psychological issues when using cannabis medicine you’re obviously using too much THC. Continuing that constitutes abuse, which is no different than abusing any other substance. That’s a judgement call that only YOU can make honestly, then be honest enough with yourself to address it. Don’t assume everyone has the same problem because they don’t.
            Read and educate yourself, then you won’t sound so much like a troll. Unless that’s your purpose. If you’re truly trying to learn and help yourself I’ve given you more than enough information. Put it to good use by actually READING and absorbing some of it and applying it to your own situation. There is no such thing as a one size fits all drug. That twisted thinking is part of the issue with doctors and pharmaceuticals.




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            1. My point is I would like to see more focus on the dangers of too much THC instead of just “legalize it”. I think if the discussion shifted to focus on THC:CBD ratios then it would benefit everyone.




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    2. Hear hear…I am so tired of non pot smokers putting in their two cents about the effects of cannabis. I have been smoking regularly since 17, I’m now 41, and I would much rather be ‘high’ than drunk. I have been fond of saying lately ‘what is high?’ It certainly is the opposite of being drunk. For me it soothes my mind, and calms me in stressful situations. It brings people together. I am very interested to see what comes out of Israel in the new year in regards to the research they have been doing since the ’60s or so.
      Cannabis doesn’t make you crazy behind the wheel, it doesn’t bring out rage monsters who beat everyone up, not just their spouses and children. It makes people happy. I have done my research :)




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      1. For the record, I have smoked pot on and off for a total of about 9 or 10 years, some years more heavy than others. I have come to the conclusion, through personal experience and research, that THC causes “mental disturbance”. At the very minimum I would characterize it is a sort of “noise” in the brain that makes it difficult to focus my thoughts towards a logical and coherent aim.

        Further, that it changes the perceptual experience and is linked to a lot of different mental disorders also concerns me.

        I am very excited about CBD however, and am very interested in hearing new research and analysis about it. I was quite pleased when I heard this month that the World Health Organization went on record saying that CBD should not be a controlled substance.




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      2. Dani, whatever floats your boat, I say.

        But before offering a testimonial for pot, consider it may have a different effect on others. It would seem your body has adapted to the drug and has put you on a stable, satisfied state of mind.

        There are many who would benefit from just having that in their lives, while others may have loftier goals. For me, the first time I tried smoking pot I felt nothing. The second time I had been drinking and after smoking the pot I threw up everything in my stomach and probably more.

        I am very thankful for that happening as that was the end of that little experiment. Still kept drinking for a while but eventually got tired of all the hangovers and gave that up too.

        For your sake I hope there is nothing long-term that is unhealthy for a permanent pot smoker.




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      3. But it does clog your arteries.
        Guaranteed you are walking around with more than 50% blockage.
        But don’t believe me, go and get yourself tested.




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  19. Here is a paper that seems to suggest that the ratio of CBD to THC is very important, and that to avoid “impaired performance in the memory trial (on spatial working and short-term memory formation in rats)” the extract should be CBD-rich.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390804002564

    Here are some studies showing the positive effects of CBD:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/npp20116
    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881110379283
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924977X13003325
    http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ben/cnsnddt/2014/00000013/00000006/art00007




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  20. To compliment this story I think a elaboration on the role of drug companies and liquor distributorships, to influence opposition to legalization and research is necessary. As with tobacco, as the most notorious example it does lead a bit to misunderstanding if one does not have the opportunity to properly context the studies and arguments that were in favor of Big T.Very similar to my personal opinion with marijuana.
    I am no researcher of the science nor the politic and have as Dr Greger state, let him do the work for me. Part of this work in this specific may include to my opinion information such as the amounts drug companies and others have contributed to political campaigns against legalization of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.
    If so much is being spent by these companies to oppose legalization in any form is not the predominant result a scientific bias against the substance, as study result is commonly connected to funding.
    This ventures into the politic which presents a minefield of contention. But at large in its later stages Big T also became a political issue not so much a scientific issue. One confounding the other…Are we not at this point with Marijuana……seems so.

    It seems that strictly by the available science, which is hence very limited, marijuana is not a be all end all, that may help some medical situations and hinder some as well. Overall however such a status of a natural substance as a herb the preponderance of evidenced must be against it, not just neutral. This is not a a drug qualification but a available natural substance such as sugar or coffee which must have a vast preponderance of evidence to the negative for it to be disallowed by government..

    Efforts I hear rumor of at the highest level of government, have a discontinuance of medical marijuana availability for study and uses being made. I fear a great disservice to those suffering in perhaps not fully studied areas, such a childhood seizure management, may occur. How can we know definitively if the system itself confounds the study of science? Can we then reasonably just report upon the science available?
    Seems not




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  21. Hi,
    The first question that comes to mind when I see studies about marijuana is what kind of marijuana? Sativa, indica, what strain, there are hundreds. How was it grown, cured,administered and prepared? Eating it is very different than smoking or vaping it. If you harvest bud early it gives more of a head high. If you harvest it late more of a body high. Some strains/hybrids are great for insomnia or pain, for example, and some worse than worthless. As Dr. Greger points out in the videos, most marijuana “research” is designed to deter it’s use. If science wants to say anything meaningful about marijuana they need to address all of these questions and not lump all marijuana together.




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  22. What happens if you just pick some leaves of MJ and eat them in your salad? Would you get the supposed health benefits without the “high”? (I never tried pot in any form.)




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    1. The benefit to eating raw marijuana is much the same as eating any leafy green without the high. Too unleash the other benefits of marijuana you must cook it or decarboxylate it. I use it for insomnia. The right strain is critical for an effective sleep aid.REG




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  23. There was an article in the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail about hundreds of people who were affected by banned pesticides that were being used in Government approved medical marijuana facilities. This marijuana was doctor prescribed. These people reported symptoms such as burning lungs which produced thick clear mucus, rashes and constant muscle ache. Symptoms continued long after they quit the marijuana.

    Not a medical journal – just an anecdotal article about some of the risks.




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    1. Canada is in the process this year of legalizing pot for recreational use. I believe they have allowed each province leeway on how to address it.
      So needless to say at this time it is a political hot potato. I would not be absolutely certain those against it are not putting every obstacle available to them to discourage this.




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  24. Big Business played a part in classifying as scheduled drug, as Hemp was competing with their materials as I understand it. My brother used to smoke for migraines and I have to admit I didn’t totally believe him but now I do as there is just too many saying how this really helps headaches that other things aren’t helping and pain.
    I myself was very skeptical even of the CBD oil that has barely has a trace of THC and considered legal with under .3 THC or less which has no high affect or not even detectable if given drug test. They sell CBD Hemp oil with less than .3 THC to all 50 states legally. I tried it and a week 1/2 in, when up to 20 drops in AM and 20 drops PM for a few days I noticed the inflammation in my airways was much better, hardly no mucus issues, no anxiety… I have to tell you someone with severe COPD with lung function at 19% feeling desperate and ready to meet Jesus, this oil gave me hope for a better quality of life- something the meds just aren’t doing. Of course I refuse the inhalers with steroids as they compromise the immune system as I also have breast cancer. I do have rescue inhaler, all day inhaler, nebulize albuterol and use oxygen upon exertion like walking dog or vacuuming. Within the first month I was using less oxygen, but this is not a cure all, but I did use less oxygen..

    Even in history they knew Cannabis good for many conditions including Lung conditions (my COPD) epilepsy, migraines, anxiety, carcinoma, and other things not listed her but are in other places up to 1945 for pain and for PTSD as in mental issues, depression etc. and they found had less side effects than opium so they knew back then was better then opioids…
    http://www.herbmuseum.ca/content/mckesson-robbins-ergot-cannabis-indica

    Would like to see more information on separate CBD Hemp oil with barely a trace of THC .3 or less and the Cannabis Oil with THC as many of those who use medically don’t smoke it, but some do and some vape it, they have even been used as suppositories to avoid the high, as many who use medically really don’t want to get high and will start at a drop and work up to build tolerance so they don’t experience much of any high.
    Then there are different strains you could research like the Indica here that McKesson and Robbins made tincture with that was also good for sleep disorders, and the sativa where they say is better for energy in the day?
    I am just guessing but I bet a variety of CBD Hemp oil, with the Indica and Sativa would treat my COPD enough where I could get off all inhalers, nebulizer and oxygen, with maybe just a rescue inhaler (which there is a company in Colorado that just made a Cannabis rescue inhaler?
    Now all we have to do is Fire Jeff Sessions, take off the schedule drug 1 list, note medical benefits and give the STates right to make their own laws or else they will continue paying a higher medical bill, killing veterans with opioids, denying children with seizures any quality of life and many of us quality of life, and criminalizing the sick… really what we going to do put the sick in prison and pay their healthcare bill too? Just example of savings from COPD, with insurance-
    Rescue inhaler about 40 every 2 months, all day inhaler 300 a month, oxygen tanks 70 a month, concentrator 300 a month…. Cannabis is way cheaper when you get to the point you just using it and not all these other things…. Imagine, our healthcare bill getting cheaper… sounds like a dream… what is wrong with Government, do they no have compassion? Medical Cannabis should be legal in all states -they should title the bill — COMPASSION.




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  25. My doctor just gave me a higher dosage prescription . Today I get 30g medical cannabis. Hopefully it will be 40 soon

    I use mostly cbd strains. Right now I take 20g cbd strains and 10g thc strain.

    Since taking this I have stop taking pain killers. My joints are much better (arthritis)also my skin (psoriasis).

    Yet, the doc said I should take 250mg cbd a day. I am still not there …the plant I use has 15% ~cbd




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