Cannabis is safer than aspirin, scientist says

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(Source)  Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects, says a book by a leading Oxford scientist.

The Science of Marijuana, by Dr Leslie Iversen of Oxford University’s department of pharmacology, found many “myths” surrounding marijuana use, such as extreme addictiveness, or links with mental illness or infertility are not supported by science.

He also found cannabis is an inherently “safe drug” which does not lead to cancer, infertility, brain damage or mental illness. Legalisation of the drug for medical conditions should be considered, he says.

Dr Iversen’s findings will increase pressure on the Government to reopen the debate about the decriminalisation of marijuana.

The author, a fellow of the prestigious Royal Society, found cannabis was far less toxic than other drugs and had “an impressive record” compared with heroin, cocaine or tobacco and alcohol.

His study showed that the active element of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which made users high, had a lot of potential as a safe drug to treat Aids patients and people suffering severe pain.

He also found “stoned” drivers were less dangerous and able to co-ordinate than people who were drunk. “By any standards, THC must be considered a very safe drug both acutely and on long-term exposure,” he writes. “The available animal data are more than adequate to justify its approval as a human medicine, and indeed it has been approved by the FDA [American drug authority] for certain limited therapeutic indications.”

The book says “alarming claims about the harmful effects of long-term exposure to cannabis” should be “put to rest”, and there “is no evidence the drug causes any impairment in fertility or sexual function in men or women”. He says people who stop using cannabis do not suffer long-term side-effects.

“Cannabis does not cause structural damage to the brains of animals as some reports had claimed, nor is there evidence of long-term damage to the human brain or other than slight residual impairments in cognitive function after drug use is stopped.” The author says many adverse effects of cannabis are related to smoking the drug.

But cannabis itself did not appear to cause cancer. Compared with alcohol and cigarettes, which led to more than 100,000 deaths a year, cannabis had a far better record.

“Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug,” he said. “Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis here are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose. Even such apparently innocuous medicines as aspirin and related steroidal anti-inflammatory compounds are not safe.

“Thousands of people die every year because of the tendency of these drugs to cause catastrophic gastric bleeding.”

Keith Hellawell, the drug czar, also agrees cannabis use does not lead to heroin addiction.

4 thoughts on “Cannabis is safer than aspirin, scientist says

  1. I have been saying and writing the same thing for years. Please read the following article I wrote for The West Coast Leaf 3 years ago? You may re-post if it helps our cause.

    Aspirin Can Kill You, Cannabis Can’t

    On July 15, 1977, I received my M.D. degree from Jefferson Medical College and moved to California to begin my internship in Internal Medicine at the Long Beach V.A. Hospital. It was an honor and a privilege to serve our nation’s veterans, the majority of who informed me of their opposition to the laws against cannabis. They fought and sacrificed for our freedoms and the values upon which our country was founded. Regretfully, in 2009, these freedoms and values are still not being granted to those Americans who use cannabis.

    My first V.A. “rotation” was on the G.I. (gastrointestinal) ward. This ward was filled with veterans dying from alcohol-induced diseases. It was a sad place. Many suffered, and ultimately died a miserable death. One evening, I admitted a patient to the I.C.U. with severe internal bleeding due to aspirin. This patient was taking the aspirin in the recommended dose for arthritis and ended up with a bleeding stomach ulcer. G.I bleeding from causes other than alcohol was unusual for the G.I ward, but the treatments were the same.

    My new patient, Mr. H, was in excruciating pain and was vomiting up large amounts of bright, red blood. His life was in grave danger so I immediately inserted a tube into his stomach in order to directly deliver medications and irrigate the internal bleeding site with iced, cold water. Mr. H could not stop shaking with chills from the frigid water irrigations.

    This went on all night. I stood at his bedside fighting alongside him trying to save his life. As sore and stiff as my hands and arms had become, I did not stop irrigating his stomach. He slipped in and out of a coma as the hours passed by. At 5 A.M, the bleeding intensified. This battle was being lost. The only option left was stomach surgery. This was undertaken and was successful . His life was saved. Mr. H was one of the lucky ones who survived a bleeding ulcer.

    Shortly after my internship, the NSAIDs were developed. These include Aleve (naproxen), Advil (ibuprofen) and Motrin (ibuprofen). These newer, over the counter drugs, can also cause internal bleeding and death, but the risks are lower as compared to aspirin. Nonetheless, the risks are real and many people end up like, Mr. H, or even worse.

    In conclusion, there are many dangerous and deadly drugs, which are readily available at our neighborhood supermarkets and pharmacies. Even our children can buy them if they please. However, nobody is arrested for selling or using aspirin, an NSAID, or any other of the numerous, lethal over the counter drugs. Ironically, people are still being persecuted, arrested and imprisoned every day for using one of the least toxic and most beneficial substances on our planet; cannabis.

    Norman J. Lepoff, M.D. retired

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  2. Mr. Lepoff, you’re an inspiration to a person such as myself. I loved every bit of your writing. I think it clearly shows that pharmaceutical companies are the ones with the influence, the ones making the money, the ones who will do everything in the power (which they have plenty of money to throw around.) to make sure marijuana is never legalized. The only way we, as people, can overcome such an obstacle is to re-inform the public about the benefits of marijuana, smash all of the disgustingly misinforming propaganda which caused people to think marijuana’s bad in the first place, and expose the fact that if alcohol is legal (which kills thousands each year) but marijuana isn’t (which this whole article proves is astronomically safer than most legal OTC medications), then public health obviously isn’t the underlying issue, it’s some pharmaceutical company’s CEO’s annual salary going from 8 digits down to 7 or 6.

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  3. Here’s what the drug experts in the USA said; In 1988, DEA Administrative Judge Francis Young wrote in his ruling;
    “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”
    http://www.ccguide.org/young88.php

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