Medicinal Marijuana (Cannabis)
A Natural Relief for Pain and Suffering
Kahlee Keane, Root Woman
plant: Cannabis sativa. C. indica
Part used: The best “medicine” is made from the
unpollinated female flowers - called sinsemilla. All other
parts of the plant are useful to a lesser extent.
Physiological action: Anodyne. Antispasmodic. Sedative. Appetite
stimulant. Antidepressant. Anti-emetic. Antibiotic. Anti-inflammatory.
Chemical constituents: Since the mid-60s more than 400 compounds
have been isolated from over a thousand suspected compounds.
Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC - a one-of-a-kind molecule
not duplicated in nature.
Focus: Cannabis has the potential to allow people with life
threatening disease to “live in dignity and comfort.” Instead
of “dying from” they are able to “live
with” a disease.
Note: Unlike pharmaceuticals (morphine, valium, etc.) extensive
scientific research has shown that marijuana is NOT a “gateway
drug” but a safe “terminus.”
What is the most prized and expensive flower in all the land?
The answer, without a doubt, is the marijuana flower. It is
not grown for its beauty or perfume. No, these hairy, skunky-smelling
clumps, glistening with resin are treasured for their potent
medicine capable of relieving pain and all manner of suffering.
Cannabis is a member of the hemp family. It grows vigourously,
with all the ardor of a weed, throwing its deeply serrated
leaves up to the sun in an ecstatic frenzy of photosynthesis.
by many monikers—MJ, Mary Jane, noble weed,
two star dog, headcase, Hanfhaus (Germany), muggles, weed,
pot, reefer, grass, ganja, bhang, “the kind”, dagga,
naming just a few.
This herb has been co-evolving with humankind for more
than ten-thousand years so it is doubtful that the aboriginal
of the plant is still in existence. It came to North America
with the African slaves and was grown and used freely by
anyone who needed it. In the 1800s an extract of Cannabis was manufactured
by pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis,
and Squibb, and was freely used as an over-the-counter drug
for a myriad of disorders.
The Institute of Medicine and World Health Organisation
(WHO) reviewed the research on Cannabis: neither committee
found convincing evidence of biological or psychological
harm, or social dysfunction among people who used Cannabis moderately.
The “war on drugs” has driven Cannabis indoors
where it has adapted brilliantly in the hands of knowledgeable
underground gardeners. Many of these caretakers of the “Sea
of Greens” have a sophisticated understanding of each
variety of marijuana they grow, including their physiological
Cannabis has been shown to help in cases of asthma, anorexia,
nausea (particularly that induced by chemotherapy), and appetite
stimulation (particularly in AIDS patients); it reduces introcular
pressure in people with glaucoma, reduces muscle spasticity
in people with neurological disorders (spinal cord injuries
and multiple sclerosis), diminishes tremors, migraine, depression,
seizures, insomnia, chronic pain, Huntington’s disease,
epilepsy, dementia, and this is just a partial list.
Cannabis is one of the most thoroughly researched herbal
drugs in history. Due to marijuana’s popularity as the “recreational
drug” of choice in the 1960s a great flush of money was
made available for scientific research. This research, coupled
with the “anecdotal” evidence gathered over centuries
of use, clearly proves that this is a safe medicinal herb to
use when needed.
It was at this time, in the 1960s, that an Israeli neuroscientist
named Raphael Mechoulam, intrigued by the ancient history
of Cannabis as
a medicine, first identified the chemical compound
responsible for the psychoactive effects of Cannabis:
or THC, a molecule with a structure unlike any found in nature
before or since.
Drug companies have pharmaceuticalized Cannabis. A patentable
synthetic drug called “Marinol” has been made
available by prescription. Unlike natural Cannabis, which
is a whole plant medicine with all chemical compounds in
tact, Marinol is synthetic THC alone. Like many pharmaceuticals
this carries dangerous side effects. Studies have shown
that 90% or more of the THC in Marinol stays in the liver
never reaches problem areas. This not only compromises
the liver but also reduces the effectiveness of this product.
In fact, two hours after taking 10-15 milligrams of Marinol
subjects had no measurable THC in their blood.
MA: the ancient Chinese character for “hemp,”
a male and female plant under a
roof - Cannabis inside the
house of human culture.
A single species answering to two
different desires - the spiritual and material.
Let’s skip forward to 1988 when Allyn Howlett, a researcher
at the St. Louis University Medical School (St. Louis, Missouri,
USA) using Mechoulam’s research, discovered a specific
receptor for the THC in the brain—a type of nerve cell
that THC binds to like a molecular key in a lock, causing it
to activate. Howlett’s discovery pointed to the existence
of a new network in the brain.
These “cannabinoid” receptors, Howlett found, showed
up in vast numbers all over the brain, as well as in the immune
system and the reproductive system. Receptors have been found
in the uterus which leads us to speculate about their capacity
to dull the pain of childbirth and also to help women forget
Curiously, the one neurological address where cannabinoid
receptors didn’t show up was in the brain stem, which regulates
involuntary functions such as circulation and respiration.
This might explain the remarkably low toxicity of Cannabis and the fact that no one is known to have ever died from an
In 1992, some thirty years after his discovery of THC, Mechoulam
(working with a collaborator, William Devane) found the brain’s
own endogenous cannabinoid. He named it, “anandamine,” from
the Sanskrit word for “inner bliss.” Mechoulam
believes the cannabinoid network regulates several different
biological processes, including pain management, memory formation,
appetite, the co-ordination of movement, and emotion.
It’s time to demystify and utilize this potent and valuable
medicine for those seriously needing it, as these people are
far too sick to be interested in using it recreationally for
There can be no doubt that Cannabis deserves to take its
rightful place among man’s natural medicines.
Deglamorising Cannabis -
Lancet 346: 1241 (1995) is one of
the best articles to read for people who want to legitimize
the claims in this article.
Clifford, D.B., “Tetrahydrocannabinol for Tremor in Multiple
Sclerosis,” Annals of
Neurology, 13: 669-71 (1983).
Cohen, S., and Stillman, R.C. (eds), The
Therapeutic Potential of Marijuana, New York Plenum Medical Book Company (1976).
Cotton, P., “Government Extinguishes Marijuana Access,
Advocates Smell Politics,” Journal
of the American Medical Association, 267: 2573-74 (1992).
Federation of American Scientists, Medical
Use of Whole Cannabis (1994).
Grinspoon, L. and Bakalar, J.B., “Marijuana as Medicine:
A Plea for Reconsideration,” Journal
of American Medical Association (1995).
Hanigan,W.C. et al., “The Effect of Delta 9-THC in the
Treatment of Human Spasticity,” Clinical
Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 39, 198 (1986).
Harris, L.S., Munson, A.E. et al, “Retardation of Tumor
Growth by Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannaboinol (Delta-9-THC),” Pharmacologist,
v 16 n 1, p 259, (1974)
Harris, L., Munson, A., and Carchman, R.A., “Antitumor
Properties of Cannabinoids,” The
Pharmacology of Marijuana,
pp. 749-62, (1976).
Hill, Shirley Y, Schwin, et al, “Marijuana and Pain,” Journal
of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, v. 188, pp.
Mechoulam, R.(ed), Cannabinoids
as Therapeutic Agents, Boca
Raton: CRC Press (1986).
Mechoulam, R., “Current Status of Therapeutic Opportunities
Based on Cannabinoid Research: An Overview,” Journal
of Clinical Pharmacology, v.21, pp. 25-75, August/September,
Merrit, J.C., Crawford, W.J., “Effect of Marijuana on
Intraocular and Blood Pressure Glaucoma,” Ophthalmology,
Voelker, R., “Medical Marijuana: A Trial of Science and
Politics,” Journal of
the American Medical Association,
271, 1645 (1994).
Woman (Kahlee Keane) is an eco-herbalist and educator with
a deep interest in the protection of the wild medicinal
plants. Root Woman & Dave’s new field guide, The
Standing People, contains over
400 colour photographs and information on over 100 plants of
the Prairie Provinces. To order send
$29.95 plus $7 postage to: #27, 2001- 8th St. East, Saskatoon,
SK S7H OT8. Email: email@example.com or