Drug Law

Top 10 Drugs of 2010 Far More Dangerous Than Pot

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville"

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug.  That means, according to the federal government:

-- it has “a high potential for abuse” (some 16 million “abusers” every month);
-- it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” (despite fifteen United States that do accept it and despite United States Federal Patent #6630507 describing its medical use);
-- and there is no “accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision” (despite sending federal medical marijuana to four patients every month who use it safely under medical supervision).

But while the drug warriors were busy sounding the alarm about the new super-potent, wildly-addictive “Pot 2.0: It’s Not Your Father’s Woodstock Weed!”, according to Martha Rosenberg at CounterPunch, drug manufacturers were making billions in 2010 selling to Americans the following ten drugs that mimic some of marijuana’s medical effects yet are far more dangerous:

1) According to research compiled by our own Paul Armentano in the new edition of NORML’s Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 — 2011, “[T]he use of a standardized extract of Cannabis sativa … evoked a total relief … in an experimental model of neuropathic pain“.  Pfizer‘s Lyrica, Mylan Pharmaceuticals Topamax and GlaxoSmithKline‘s Lamictal are drugs that are commonly prescribed for pain and migraine.  Their side effects?

    All three drugs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors according to their mandated labels, in addition to the memory and hair loss patients report.

2) The use of cannabis as an anti-depressant has been anecdotally reported for decades and recent research shows that in low doses, it can have an anti-depressant effect, but it seems to reverse if one takes too high a dose.  Regardless, you’re better off with the cannabis than with the side effects of Eli Lilly‘s Prozac, GlaxoSmithKline‘s Paxil, Pfizer‘s Zoloft, or other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs):

    In addition to 4,200 published reports of SSRI-related violence, including the Columbine, Red Lake and NIU shootings, SSRIs can cause serotonin syndrome and gastrointestinal bleeding when taken with certain drugs. Paxil is linked to birth defects.


3) Combine our first two conditions, pain and depression, which we’ve shown cannabis to be effective at treating, and now you have the conditions addressed by a class of drugs known as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).  Pfizer‘s Effexor, Eli Lilly‘s Cymbalta, and Pfizer‘s Pristiq are commonly marketed in a cross-over fashion to both depression and pain sufferers, who get all the same risks of side-effects as the SSRI’s listed above, plus…

    SNRI’s are also harder to quit than SSRIs. 739,000 web sites address “Effexor” and “withdrawal.”

4) Dr. Donald Tashkin found that people who smoke marijuana have not only less head, neck, and lung cancer risk than those who smoke cigarettes, but actually also have lower risk than those who don’t smoke at all.  Some of my friends have told me smoking marijuana helped address cravings as they were trying to quit smoking tobacco, but whether it actually helps medically is not known.  What is known is that Pfizer‘s popular anti-smoking drug Chantix is much more likely to affect your mental health:

    After 397 FDA cases of possible psychosis, 227 domestic reports of suicidal behaviors and 28 actual suicides, the government banned pilots, air-traffic controllers and interstate truck and bus drivers from taking the antismoking drug Chantix in 2008.

5) Many a toker can relate that they use marijuana at the end of a long busy stressful day to relax and unwind, especially if they are having a tough time getting to sleep.  The popular sleeping pill, sanofi-aventis‘s Ambien, you may remember from the story of US Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashing his car in a fit of “sleep-driving”:

    Law enforcement officials say it has increased traffic accidents from people who drive in a black out and don’t even recognize arresting officers.

6) THC may have the most powerful tumor-inhibiting properties known to medicine, something our government has been aware of since 1974.  There are at least four different scientific studies showing cannabinoids to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.  But then legal cannabis would severely curtail the sales of Astra-Zeneca‘s Tamoxifen breast cancer prevention drug:

    As a breast cancer prevention drug, an American Journal of Medicine study found the average life expectancy increase from Tamoxifen was nine days. Public Citizen says for every case of breast cancer prevented on Tamoxifen there is a life-threatening case of blood clots, stroke or endometrial cancer.

7) ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) affects millions of Americans.  Recently new research has shown that cannabis can have very positive results for those trying to control their disorder.  However, we’re much more likely to hear of someone with ADHD using Novartis‘s Ritalin, Johnson & Johnson‘s Concerta, Eli Lilly‘s Strattera, Shire‘s Adderall, especially on children with ADHD:

    ADHD drugs rob “kids of their right to be kids, their right to grow, their right to experience their full range of emotions, and their right to experience the world in its full hue of colors,” says Anatomy of an Epidemic author Robert Whitaker.

8) As strange as it may seem, many patients with asthma report using cannabis to help open their restricted airways.  Cannabis is a bronchodialator and can be used in a vaporized form to avoid the respiratory distress from cannabis smoke.  But cannabis is incapable of killing you, unlike the long-acting beta agonists (LABA) Foradil Aerolizer, GlaxoSmithKline‘s Serevent Diskus and Advair, and Astra-Zeneca‘s Symbicort often used to treat asthma symptoms:

    Studies link them to an increase in asthma deaths, especially in African-Americans and children. They may have contributed to 5,000 deaths said Dr. David Graham at FDA hearings about the controversial asthma drugs.

9) Another set asthma control drugs known as leukotrine receptor agonists are also far more dangerous to you than vaporizing cannabis, like Merck‘s Singulair and Astra-Zeneca‘s Accolate.

    Original FDA reviewers said asthma control “deteriorates” on Singulair and it may not be safe in children. Last month, Fox TV reported Singulair, Merck’s top selling drug, is suspected of producing aggression, hostility, irritability, anxiety, hallucinations and night-terrors in kids, symptoms that are being diagnosed as ADHD.

10) Finally, while not technically a medical use, many people use cannabis as a way to relax, have fun, and socialize with others.  Stress can be very damaging to one’s body and mind and cannabis is one of the most popular drugs used to combat it.  The most popular drug for socialization and relaxation, of course, is alcohol, marketed as Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s Budweiser, MillerCoorsCoors Light, Pabst‘s Blue Ribbon, and Boston Beer Co.’s Sam Adams.  While moderate consumption of alcohol may have some minor health benefits, habitual over-consumption, according to HealthCheck Systems, can lead to:

    Arthritis - Increases risk of gouty arthritis
    Cancer - Increases the risk of cancer in the liver, pancreas, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus
    Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – Causes physical and behavioral abnormalities in the fetus
    Heart Disease – Raises blood pressure, blood lipids and the risk of stroke and heart disease in heavy drinkers. Heart disease is generally lower in light to moderate drinkers.
    Hyperglycermia - Raises blood glucose
    Hypoglycemia - Lowers blood glucose, especially for people with diabetes
    Kidney Disease - Enlarges the kidneys, alters hormone functions, and increases the risk of kidney failure
    Liver Disease – Causes fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis
    Malnutrition - Increases the risk of protein-energy malnutrition,; low intakes of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6 and riboflavin, and impaired absorption of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D and zinc.
    Nervous Disorders – Causes neuropathy and dementia; impairs balance and memory
    Obesity – Increases energy intake, but not a primary cause of obesity
    Psychological disturbances – Causes depression, anxiety and insomnia

So why in the world would we prevent people from using the safe, natural, effective, non-toxic herb cannabis with so many proven benefits and so little risk of side effects?  Why would we force people to take a plethora of pills with proven dangerous side effects?  Why would we celebrate the use of poisonous alcohol and demonize the smoking of a benign weed?

2010 Reported Corporate Revenues:

Johnson & Johnson = $61.90 billion
Pfizer= $50.01 billion
GlaxoSmithKline = $45.83 billion
Novartis = $44.27
Sanofi-Aventis = $41.99 billion
AstraZeneca = $32.81 billion
Merck & Co. = $27.43 billion
Eli Lilly = $21.84 billion
Anheuser-Busch InBev (2007) = $16.70 billion
MillerCoors = $3.03 billion
Pabst = $0.50 billion
Boston Beer Company = $0.46 billion
Every legal cannabis producing company combined = $0

Oh, wait, I remember…