December 13, 2005
Ragga little pills
Cannabis-based drugs are storming
the pharmaceutical industry
Ever since a government grow-op in Flin
Flon, Manitoba failed to turn in properly potent pot for now-legal
prescriptions, the free market has taken a foothold, putting a
variety of new pot-based products on the market.
Sativex, a “cannibinoidal spray” has received the most
press by far, primarily because it delivers marijuana’s
active ingredient–tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)–without
the need of a pipe or rolling paper. The drug helps ease the neurological
symptoms of Mulitple Sclerosis sufferers.
Meanwhile, a more modest product call Med-Marijuana has hit pharmacy
shelves across the country, promising pain relief for osteo-arthritis
sufferers. The natural remedy carries a low profile in legalization
debates since there’s no potential to get high: all it offers
is a dose of marijuana-seed oil in a gel caplet. But the product
has rapidly gained a following in a middle-aged population tired
of testing every new anti-inflammatory, pain-killing, gut-corroding
arthritis pill being pushed by the mainstream pharmaceutical industry.
Shirley Martin, a 53 year-old arthritis sufferer, is Alberta’s
first distributor of the herbal remedy. She began promoting the
natural remedy after trying Med-Marijuana on the advice of her
sister, another arthritis sufferer.
“I’m open minded. I’ve never even tried marijuana,
never smoked it, but I’m not a prude,” she said.
Arthritis hit Martin’s sister hard. Barely able to cope
with climbing a staircase on her worst days, she fell into a depression.
Conventional painkillers didn’t help much, so she tried
out Med-Marijuana, and found some relief. Martin followed suit.
“I get a little emotional about it. Having arthritis for
so many years, it’s pretty amazing to go just a day without
any pain,” the pill promoter said. “Once you get past
the ‘tee hee, it’s marijuana’ thing, it’s
a serious product.”
Martin scored big by getting the product into 19 Super Drug Mart’s
in Calgary, but average folk in rural Alberta are also buying
in. Med-Marijuana is now sold in pharmacies in Drumheller, Okotoks,
Airdre, and Strathmore. This week the pills are due to hit the
shelves in Ft. McMurray’s Real Canadian Superstore.
Med-Marijuana is little more than hemp oil derived from what the
company calls “pharmaceutical quality” cannabis seed
pressings. The key ingredient, GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), is
also found in Evening Primrose Oil (but in far lesser quantity,
according to Med-Marijuana), and is an essential Omega 6 fatty
Most North American diets already contain too much Omega 6, which
contributes to long-term diseases such as heart disease, cancer,
asthma, arthritis, and depression as well as, possibly, increased
risk of infection, according the University of Maryland Medical
But not all Omega 6’s are equal. GLA has even been found
to counter the inflammation caused by a high Omega 6 diet. And
it has a history of folk use for the treatment of allergies and
muscle stiffness. The University observed that scientific studies
are mixed on the overall benefit of GLA, but tend to support Med-Marijuana’s
claim that the GLA-rich essential oil could provide benefits to
many sufferers of many different ailments. The University outlined
evidence supporting the use of GLA to help ease symptoms like
the numbness some diabetics feel in their extremities; Sjögren’s
syndrome (often demonstrated, ironically, by dry eyes and dry
mouth); menopause and premenstrual syndrome; eczema and allergies;
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; and genetically linked
Natural supplement producers aren’t the only ones jumping
on (or off) the pot wagon. Pharmaceutical corporation Sanofi-Aventis
plans an early 2006 release of a weight loss/anti-obesity drug
called Acomplia. The company’s scientists, working from
the observation that pot users get “the munchies” after
smoking, guessed that blocking cannabinoid receptors might reduce
the urge to eat. The great hope is that the drug will help users
shed pounds without suffering the amphetamine side effects associated
with other weight loss drugs. Clinical trials are said to be promising.
No word on whether this legal drug will kill your illegal buzz