The Canadian government is funding a major clinical study into the effects of marijuana on the nausea, pain, mood and neuro-cognitive function of 32 patients suffering from HIV/AIDS. The first trials began in October, and are being led by researchers from the Community Research Initiative of Toronto.
However, instead of using the pot they paid about $6 million to have grown deep in a Manitoba mine (CC#38, Health Canada claims their pot sucks), Minister of Health Anne McLellan announced that the Canadian government would be buying 500 grams of “research grade” marijuana from the US government’s National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), grown at the University of Mississippi.
Yet is the product supplied by the US government even true marijuana? In an exclusive story broken on Pot-TV by cannabis research activists Chris Bennett and David Malmo-Levine, it was revealed that the “standardized” cannabis produced at the University of Mississippi has been modified to remove many cannabinoids and alter its medicinal effects.
In October, Bennett and Malmo-Levine aired some Pot-TV episodes in which they criticized the NIDA cannabis as being low-grade “schwag” full of seeds, stems and scraggly bits of bud. Each month NIDA supplies hundreds of pre-rolled medicinal joints to America’s eight legal med-pot patients, and it is of notoriously poor quality. The joints which each patient receives are full of seeds and stems, and low in actual bud content.
The pair of Pot-TV journalists soon received a letter from Matthew Johnson, a graduate student studying behavioral pharmacology at a NIDA-funded research lab, at the Department of Psychology and Human Behavioral Pharmacology Lab, University of Vermont.
“I teach a college class in psychopharmacology” wrote Johnson, “and I tell my students that every drug supplied by NIDA is pharmaceutical-grade and top potency, but that is the opposite case for cannabis ? a very strange situation.”
Johnson went on to reveal some startling information about NIDA’s “research grade” buds. “At a 2001 conference I had the occasion to chat with a rather well-known and respected NIDA-funded researcher whose present study involved smoked marijuana administration. I asked her how the potency was ?standardized’ and she said that the NIDA marijuana had the THC extracted and then artificially added. She didn’t mention other cannabinoids.”
Johnson explained that natural cannabis has a number of therapeutically active compounds aside from THC, and that these cannabinoids interact with THC and each other and lock into different receptors.
“We are still in our infancy in terms of understanding how this complex system works,” explained Johnson.” Given this lack of knowledge, it doesn’t make any sense to study anything but the quality bud which has been found to be helpful from the folks who know.”
“I have since tried to find out more information about this ?research grade’ marijuana,” continued Johnson, “and have little information. I can only assume that what she said was correct, which is infuriating.”
Bennett and Malmo-Levine contacted Health Canada spokesman Andrew Swift, to find out more about the marijuana that is being supplied to Canadian patients. Yet their questions about how the NIDA pot was produced, and whether or not Johnson’s allegations were correct, were left unanswered.
Swift claimed that NIDA gave Health Canada all the details on the med-pot they were providing, but that he couldn’t share any of it with the media or the patients. “As with all drug submissions, this information is considered ?proprietary,'” wrote Swift, “and must be treated as confidential.”
Swift wouldn’t even provide basic information on how NIDA’s pot was grown ? whether it was fertilized with organic or synthetic nutrients, whether it had been sprayed or treated with anything, or even whether the strains are predominantly Indica or Sativa. All such questions were left unanswered due to the “proprietary” nature of NIDA’s cultivation techniques.
The Canadian government is playing a cruel trick on many of their most sick and dying citizens. By buying pseudo-pot from NIDA instead of the real buds they paid millions to have grown, the feds seem set on sabotaging their own study.
Obviously, smoking schwag that has been sprayed with THC is not the same as smoking prime quality buds. If the point of the study is to study the effects of smoked marijuana, then they should be using real marijuana. But if their true goal is to produce results which show that cannabis is not good medicine, then using NIDA’s pseudo-pot is an excellent start.