Canadian columnist calls medical cannabis a “charade”

Homegrown marijuana By Rollorollo69 (creative commons)

Homegrown marijuana By Rollorollo69 (creative commons)

Toronto, Canada- (TFC) Despite polling showing more people support medical marijuana, and the increasing number of studies that show the medical properties of cannabis, there are still people, such as Margaret Wente, who are motivated to dismiss the evidence. The ignorance is a flat out insult to those who depend on cannabis to live a somewhat normal life, and someone needs to call her out.

Margaret Wente first drew the ire of the Canadian public in 2012 when she admitted to plagiarizing multiple stories. She defended the journalistic sin by claiming it was all an honest mistake that was a product of her forgetting she read a story about an author a year before she wrote her piece. To make matters worse, she criticized the person who brought up the accusation as someone who “has been complaining about my work for years.”

Three years later, the character still writes columns for The Globe and Mail.  And although she has not been accused of plagiarism since the initial uproar, she has shown the world how ignorant and foolish she is by planting the same tired arguments in a story, where she claims medical marijuana is a “charade.”

Wente begins the article by admitting she is fine with veterans smoking cannabis to help with their PTSD.  She admits to accepting people smoking the plant for whatever reason they want.  However, her third paragraph shows she is completely out to lunch, and is never coming back. Wente writes, “But is it medicine? No, it’s not. And it’s tremendously misleading to tell people that it is.”

Tremendously misleading? Those two words encapsulate the stupid arguments used by prohibitionists for decades to dismiss science, and attack liberty. Calling medical cannabis misleading is so far beyond ignorance, there is no spot in the dictionary to define it.

In the three years I have worked as an independent journalist, I have interviewed numerous individuals who, out of desperation and as a last hope, have used cannabis to treat their’s or their children’s illnesses and diseases, when scores of pharmaceutical drugs either haven’t worked or made their child’s condition worse. These people didn’t get cannabis to get high. They didn’t move their families, or risk the social stigma to play a game.

I interviewed Mike Bortell, a veteran who had to move his family from Texas to Colorado after his daughter, Alexis, was diagnosed with epilepsy. What started as nightly seizures turned into round the clock attacks after Alexis was prescribed with anti-seizure drugs Carbatrol and then Depakote. Since the move that took Alexis away from her school and her friends, Alexis has gone months without having any seizures, thanks to cannabis oil.

I talked to Brittany Hardy- Warrior, who, like the Bortell’s, had to move to Colorado to help her daughter get treatment for her seizures. At a young age, she has been to the hospital dozens of times. The medications prescribed destroyed her organs, made her lose weight, and then gain back the weight. Before cannabis, doctors suggested splitting little Jaqie’s brain in half to relieve the pressure on her brain. Cannabis allowed her to develop, and the seizures decreased.

Without cannabis, Warrior and Bortell could have been forced to bury their children. They did what every parent needs to do, and that is find any way possible to provide their children with a life without people like Wente dismissing their stories as hogwash. According to people like Wente, those two parents should have continued giving their children pharmaceutical drugs that didn’t help a thing.

Wente doesn’t know those stories; she doesn’t know about Sophie Ryan, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Doctors told her parents, Tracy and Ryan, that there was no guarantee they could shrink the tumor with chemotherapy, and Sophie was about to lose her sight. With the help of the radiation, cannabis has shrunk Sophie’s tumor and she is still able to see.

These cases exist all over the world, and there is science that backs up the anecdotal evidence. A study out of the UK found rats that had been given a cannabinoid derived from cannabis experience less seizures and a longer life span than the rats given a placebo.

The science is there for epilepsy and cancer. A study out of Israel showed those cannabis compounds have the potential to cure cancer by preventing the growth of, and killing cancer cells. Evidence has been seen in treating MS, PTSD, depression,Crohn’s and many other diseases.  Significant progress has been made, but more research is always needed.

Wente was right when she said more research on medical cannabis is needed, but the lack of full of research is not because cannabis is sold as snake oil.  The lack of research is because governments all over the world have put barriers in front of researchers and scientists who want to research cannabis.

To get research approved, you must first go through the FDA, then get research grade cannabis through the National Institute of Health, and have the study green lighted by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. It is a process pharmaceutical companies don’t have to go through to study a new drug. In June, it was announced researchers no longer had to go through the Public Health Service in their marathon to study cannabis, but that doesn’t help enough. The full study of cannabis has not yet occurred. By dismissing medical cannabis as a “charade,” Wente is being disingenuous and her judgment is incredibly premature.

Wente’s attitude towards cannabis is shared by the Canadian government, who applauds articles that take a stab at everything cannabis does for the sick. The government tried to limit access to the medicine by approving only dried cannabis as a treatment. Thankfully, the Supreme Court of Canada deemed the action unconstitutional and medical cannabis users can now use cannabis oil.

In the decision brought forth by the arrest and charge of Owen Smith, who was preparing cookies, oil and lip balm for the Cannabis Buyers Club of Canada, the presiding judge said,

“Different methods of administering marihuana offer different medical benefits- oral administration results in a slower build-up and longer retention of active compounds in the system than inhaling, allowing the medical benefits to continue over a longer period of time, including while the patient is asleep.  It is therefore more appropriate for chronic conditions.”

It has been shown smoking cannabis may provide faster relief, but it doesn’t last.  Consuming oils attaches to your blood stream, allowing consumers to feel the relief through their entire body, while smoking attaches to one’s nervous system. Simply put, oils work better to treat sickness than smoking the dried plant.

Canada’s health minister Rona Ambrose either doesn’t know that, or simply doesn’t care to give Canadians relief. Ambrose told reporters in Ottawa she was, “outraged by the Supreme Court,” before adding, “”We have this message that normalizes a drug where there is no clear clinical evidence that it is, quote-unquote, a medicine.” While the rest of Canada sees the medical purposes of cannabis, with scientific and anecdotal evidence behind them, a columnist for a major newspaper, and more troubling, a cabinet minister are on completely different wavelengths.

Since coming into office, the Harper government has attacked the core values of Canada, which includes the country’s national empathy. Canadians are kind, passionate, and sympathetic towards those whose lives are a constant struggle. To attack the work that has been done to alleviate pain, with a medicine that has worked wonders for many, is an insult to everyone who depends on that medicine. Wente, Ambrose, and anyone else that claims medical marijuana is a sham, don’t know what they are talking about, and their ignorance is an affront to reality.