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Talk about cannabis

September 2004
Issued by the Talk to Frank campaign

This leaflet claims to have quotes from real teenagers that just (by chance obviously) echo the information and advice offered by Frank.

In some ways, this leaflet is very good. It gets some important points over in a clear way without resorting to the usual distortions we've come to expect, but it's still compromised by the need to support the law and government drugs policy.

Page 1: The front page

Talk about cannabis -  page 1

Page 2 I don't really smoke

Talk about cannabis -  page 2

UKCIA has long carried the warning that smoking anything is bad for your health - such as here where we advise "Smoking anything isn't good for you, smoke contains a lot of chemicals, tars and oils. As a general rule of thumb, the less smoke you inhale the better".

But whereas we support that advice, it is clearly and obviously sensible to encourage people who are going to smoke to do so in the safest possible way. With regards to cannabis this should include encouraging users to smoke without tobacco which not only increases the risks of smoking, but also adds its own risks of addiction.

This seems to rubbish the idea of smoking cannabis without tobacco, which seems a bad idea to us. There is also no advice on using safer smoking methods such as water pipes or even vapourisers. After all, it's by learning how to avoid risks that we learn what those risks are.

Also, UKCIA has heard of a lot of evidence that cannabis relieves the symptoms of asthma. Although we accept smoking is something to keep to a minimum, Frank isn't being totally honest - see here.

Page 3: The law

Talk about cannabis -  page 3

This is a warning about the dangers posed by the law, not about dangers posed by cannabis itself. UKCIA has warned for some time that "a conviction for cannabis possession or dealing can cause you big problems later in life - far bigger problems than the plant could ever cause". For the vast majority, that's still true today.

Page 4: I got paranoid:

Talk about cannabis -  page 4

This is generally good advice, indeed we have also been saying this for some time now on our effects page: "Feelings of paranoia can happen from time to time to anyone and is usually linked to using cannabis in the wrong sort of place, but a few people find it dominates their feelings and if this happens, treat it as a warning - cannabis isn't for you".

If you are showing the symptoms of mental illness, cannabis might make them worse.

Page 5: Driving

Talk about cannabis -  page 5

Good advice

Page 6: I couldn't remember

Talk about cannabis -  page 6

"Set your own boundaries about if or when you use cannabis - and stick to them" is very good advice and is a world away from the usual "don't do it". UKCIA endorses this comment totally.

Page 7: I put on weight

Talk about cannabis -  page 7

This "munchy" warning is a bit daft really. Cannabis users aren't any more obese than people at large, indeed by far the biggest cause of obesity is junk food (often marketed at kids) and couch potato lifestyles. However, hidden in this is something very interesting: "I hardly ever smoke now" - which accepts that cannabis use can be managed.

Page 8: I can go up or down:

Talk about cannabis -  page 8

What this is trying to say is be careful where you use cannabis. Because of the type of drug it is, where and when you get stoned is important. As we point out here "Make sure the location is good - getting stoned in a threatening place can also lead to the feelings of paranoia".

But the most important bit of information is contained in the bit of advice at the end -

"If a spliff doesn't smell right, makes you feel funny or you don't know what's in it, don't smoke it" Frank is really warning about another danger caused by the law, that of contaminated supplies or possibly even different drugs being passed off to unsuspecting people. It's not unknown for crack cocaine to be smoked in joints, a danger caused by the law which Frank daren't tell you about.

Page 9: Why I stopped

Talk about cannabis -  page 9

No problem with this one. Again, giving up isn't that difficult and Frank is acknowledging that.

Page 10: The last page with contact info.

Talk about cannabis -  page 10

In summary, this leaflet isn't bad and gets the governments message over in a non-threatening way which is mostly believable. But as always, it doesn't tell the full story and hides the dangers created by the government supported prohibition. This is a pity and this need to tell half-truths will always compromise information given out by Frank.

Also, the refusal to encourage safer (note safer) smoking techniques is difficult to understand

________________________________________________________________

Notes:

Asthma

Acute effects of smoked marijuana and oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on specific airway conductance in asthmatic subjects

Effects of Smoked Marijuana in Experimentally Induced Asthma

from the IDMU website

http://www.idmu.co.uk/hol6.htm

6.8 Therapeutic research in the treatment of Asthma

6.8.1 Cannabis and cannabis extracts have a long history in the treatment of asthma-related complaints, as long ago as 1695, including an enquiry by the Ohio State Medical Committee in 1860 where oral dosage of one grain of tincture every three hours produced "almost magical" relief from asthma symptoms. J. Russell Reynolds personal physician to Queen Victoria, writing in 1890 stated that "in some cases it relieves spasmodic asthma", and Mattison, in 1891, reported similar findings.
6.8.2 Modern research has tended to confirm traditional therapeutic use as an anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator agent. Vachon et al, using volunteer asthma patients, found that smoke from low-potency material (1.9% & 0.9% THC) showed highly significant bronchodilator effects, which did not appear to be dose related, lasting for up to 90 minutes after administration.

6.8.3 Tashkin et al in double-blind experiments using smoked cannabis with 2% or 0% THC (0% - placebo - all cannabinoids extracted before administration), as well as 15mg synthetic THC administered orally, found increases in specific airway conductance (bronchodilation) with smoked and oral drug conditions, and concluded that the 0% THC placebo may contain some as yet unidentified bronchodilator, as there was no broncho-constriction, which might have been expected in asthmatics following inhalation of particulate matter. They concluded that THC was effective in relieving exercise-induced bronchospasm, with the duration of the bronchodilatory action lasting from 2hr to 4hr after administration. Oral THC produced significant, but less pronounced, effects. In 1977 the same team used aerosolised THC in 5mg and 20mg doses, producing similar and significant bronchodilation after all doses, with the lower dose producing fewer physical (tachycardia) or psychological (high) side effects than the higher dose or smoked marijuana. The effect was slower in onset but longer in duration than isoproterenol, a conventional bronchodilator agent. Williams et al also concluded that THC and salbutamol (ventolin) were equally effective in improving ventilatory function 1 hour after administration by aerosol, with THC having the longer duration of action.

6.8.4 Abboud & Sanders found that bronchodilator effects were unreliable when 10mg oral THC was used, some slight increase in airway conductance was noted although one patient developed severe bronchoconstriction.

6.8.5 Reviewing the evidence in 1986, Graham concluded that THC is an active bronchodilator with a different mode of action from the common preparations such as salbutamol and terbutaline, and active when ingested orally or by inhalation. Oral use (2mg to 20mg in a sesame oil capsule) was slower in onset than inhalation, which although not ideal, due to the particulate matter in smoke, could produce swift relief from symptoms. Higher amounts - i.e. 50-75mg of THC - showed a dose-related effect. Tests of CBN (600mg) and CBD (1200mg) showed these cannabinoids not to have bronchodilator activity. Prolonged administration produced no evidence of clinical tolerance to any of the actions of THC. Speculated that the action of THC may involve suppression of the release of endogenous substances causing asthma (e.g. SRS-A), rather than inhibiting their activity.

Summary:

Whilst we accept that breathing in smoke will aggrivate asthma, it is also true that cannabis can make the symptoms less severe. Used without tobacco and with proper smoking equipment (pipes / water pipes) or vapourizers, or even if eaten, cannabis can indeed help asthma sufferers.

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