Gateway Drug or A Medical Miracle?

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Man smoking cannabis as gateway drug

In the weeks leading up the election, various legislators and pundits have commented on cannabis. However, there’s a mixture of both negative and positive coming from both sides of the aisle. Just last week US Department of Justice Attorney, Kurt Alme, published an op-ed aimed toward the cannabis initiatives in Montana. The opinion editorial urges voters to reconsider their stance on cannabis to reflect his ‘Reefer Madness’ views. Our industry may be changing some hearts but, the narrative of cannabis as a gateway drug still cages others.

In the piece, Alme claims cannabis “can increase the risk of severe complications from COVID-19”. This is despite some news suggesting otherwise. Furthermore, other US attorney offices labeled the move as “improper” and “an abuse of power”. When pressed on the matter, a spokeswoman from his office defended the statements.

“The piece was intended to educate voters on an issue that significantly impacts the enforcement of federal criminal law and is a topic about which US attorney offices have much information.”

Office Spokeswoman, Claire Johnson Howard

Alme is ignoring the fact that the federal government is barred from using federal funds to pursue state-legal cannabis . A wide majority of claims in the piece are unsubstantiated and lack evidence with the rest being taken out of context. Even so, the selectively shared studies failed to mention the mountain of evidence proving the medical benefits of cannabis that further proves him wrong.

The Newest Medical Achievement for Cannabis

As more interest in cannabis crops up, more independent studies do as well. Regardless of how anecdotal it may be, the community has a wide range of evidence proving that cannabis is helpful and not harmful. The Washington State University conducted the most recent study earlier this month. Ironically enough, it hails from a state that Alme criticized for the after effects of cannabis legalization.

Led by Dakota Mauzay, Emily LaFrance, and Arrie Cutler, the study went into the effects of cannabis on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Using the app Strainprint to track severity in symptoms before and after consumption, they analyzed 87 self-identifying individuals over the course of 31 months.

This study specifically sought to: “1) examine whether symptoms of OCD are significantly reduced after inhaling cannabis, 2) examine predictors (gender, dose, cannabis constituents, time) of these symptom changes and 3) explore potential long-term consequences of repeatedly using cannabis to self-medicate for OCD symptoms, including changes in dose and baseline symptom severity over time.”

In the end, they found that 60% of patients reported a reduction in compusions; 49% reduced intrusions and a 52% reduction in anxiety. While the study allowed the individuals to choose their method of consumption, there was a significant change in symptoms. Smoking cannabis only provided short-term relief; but, introducing the entourage effect and cannabinoid combinations in other types of consumption products would more than likely provide longer lasting effects.

This is merely one study on one specific group; but, lets not forget the work of Rick Simpson, the education that Jack Herer provided us, as well as the activism of the late Charlotte Figi.

Kurt Alme may see cannabis as a gateway drug; but, decades of studies and centuries of agricultural and medical use prove the contrary. One thing that Alme does prove is that the stigma is alive and well. Albeit few and far between, our work towards education and medical cannabis research has a long road ahead.

Joycelin Arnold

Joycelin Arnold

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