Cannabis ‘spice’ better think twice

The pros and cons of marijuana usage ishotly debated. On one hand, it goes without saying that marijuana is quite simply the best all-around substance to tackle pretty much any illness. Its medicinal qualities have been used for thousands of years by indigenous societies. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence testifying to the fact that it alleviates pain of all kinds as well as insomnia and other disorders. And there is no small amount of scientific data backing up all these claims. If there was no scientific data then states would not be legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

On the other hand, there have been recent studies completed which indicate that there are many health implications for the legalization of marijuana. One prominent study has found that regular cannabis use among young adults results in lower IQ and lower test scores. Another study has recently found that marijuana usage is associated with premature death when accounting for mental disorders, socio economic background and alcohol use. It was a large study which concluded that people who reported heavy marijuana use had a 40% increase in a risk of death between the years of 1970-2011. There are a number of studies coming out which highlight the potential dangers of cannabis usage.

Cannabis Spice Better Think Twice

A research group led by Olga Malyshevskaya and Yoshihiro Urade of International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine, University of Tsukuba, discovered that seizures, a life-threatening condition, can be induced by natural THC or the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-018 (main component of synthetic blend “Spice”) in mice. This was demonstrated by continuous EEG recording of animals’ electric brain activity. Based on their data they propose potential treatment in case of cannabinoid overdose because in their study pretreatment prevented cannabinoid-induced seizures. According to Olga Malyshevskaya“Our study is quite important because unaware of the particularly severe effect by those cannabinoids, people see marijuana as a soft drug, without dangerous health effects”

Considering the recent irreversible spread of synthetic cannabinoids and their impact on human health, many believe that this data should serve as a public health alert. The authors believe t is critically important for health-care professionals and policy makers to be aware of the serious adverse effects, as shown in the report. Malyshevskaya contends that clinicians in the emergency departments should always suspect seizure activity in patients who have a history of cannabinoid intoxication. The number of clinical cases involving marijuana intoxication has been steadily increasing due to increase in cannabis potency over the last two decades. This does seem reasonable, and synthetic cannabinoids are not something that is good for public health.

 A Key Element Missing?

Unfortunately, in all these studies, there is a key element missing which all the science in the world simply cannot account for. Cannabis quality. It is far more likely that it is toxins in the weed that are causing the damage, and the studies will be unable to account for this. It is highly likely that toxins will trigger seizures and other types of disorders. Marijuana has been prohibited for nearly a century in the USA and for this reason the people traditionally had to get their marijuana from the black market. Illegal growth operations do not exactly put quality assurance on their list of annual achievements. They want to generate a high yield and gain as much profit as possible while avoiding getting caught.

So all the studies that are done are drawing conclusions on marijuana that is not possibly polluted but most likely polluted with pesticides and other contaminants. To add even further confusion, it could easily be that certain strains lead to certain conditions, and the permutations of this are endless. Perhaps Indica dominant strains are safe, but Sativa dominant strains are more likely to trigger certain diseases. Again, there are almost too many questions to be answered and scientific studies will never get to the bottom of it. Common sense, subjective reasoning and practicality are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle as opposed to relying on data scientists and political interests.

Unanswered Questions

There is also the question as to who is funding the anti-marijuana studies, a number of which seem to be drawing incorrect conclusion or others who are backed by clearly prohibitionist groups. Some of the statements by alleged marijuana officials are brazenly false, but will doubtless succeed in convincing those who do not have experience in cannabis. Marijuana is definitely not a public health hazard unless a particular strain is loaded with toxins (which, it has to be said, many of them are). There has never been a single death related directly to marijuana. It has nearly been proven a safer alternative to alcohol, in the sense that all states which have legalized marijuana have noted a decrease in road accidents and road related fatalities. The two primary reasons for this are that marijuana reduces opiate addiction, a cause of many road deaths, and that marijuana is safer than alcohol in terms of road accidents. Stoned drivers are more aware they are stoned and drive slower, while drunk drivers seem to be more reckless.

While there might be some downsides to marijuana, it is most definitely not a public danger like most of the studies suspiciously seem to be claiming all at the same time. It is a plant, grown from the ground, fed on nutrients and sunlight, that mimics a naturally occurring compound found in the human body. Marijuana is about as dangerous as a banana once the question of toxins is removed.

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