Analysis by Richard Cowan

In the marijuana reform movement, and especially in the medical cannabis community, there has long been the belief (hope) that if someone sufficiently famous and/or powerful found that only cannabis helped their medical condition, the opposition of the federal government and the police apparatus would be overwhelmed.

So far, no one powerful enough has felt compelled to speak out, but what if it happened to a whole generation?

Recently, a poll taken by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) showed that a large majority of “older Americans” favor medical access to cannabis.
See
Leakin’ ‘Bout My G-G-Generation. Leak of AARP Poll On Medical Cannabis Assures Story Will Have Long Legs. Mainstreaming Real Threat To Prohibitionist Party Line.

Now, there is an even more urgent reason for this support. An article in Wednesday’s issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, which is published by the Society for Neuroscience, reports that certain synthetic cannabinoids prevented cognitive decline in rats that had been injected with a substance that causes brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s. (The research was done using both live rats and human brain tissue, but it was not done on human subjects.)

The Alzheimer’s Association has a link on its web page to a story on Healthday.com, Marijuana-like Ingredient Could Slow Alzheimer’s.

Inevitably, the article says that unnamed “Alzheimer’s experts… warned this is very preliminary…. and, as such, is far from an endorsement of marijuana use in preventing Alzheimer’s.”

It also quotes William Thies, the vice president of medical and scientific affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association as saying, “The paper doesn’t reflect any thought that people should use marijuana as any kind of therapeutic agent for Alzheimer’s. It would be irresponsible to suggest that.”

Of course, not! A paper about the results of synthetic cannabinoids used on rats and brain tissue would never recommend that people use cannabis; alcohol or aspirin, perhaps, but never cannabis!

However, if you or someone you loved was struggling with that horrible disease, would you simply wait and see if some nice pharmaceutical company was going to develop “synthetic cannabinoids” – or would you try smoking, vaporizing, drinking or eating cannabis in some form?

In fact, no human trials are even scheduled, so it could be many years before there is a synthetic pharmaceutical available. (This might be a boost for GW Pharmaceuticals, which has a head start with whole-cannabis derivatives.)
See
Dr. Lester Grinspoon Warns About The Pharmaceuticalization of Cannabis, As GW Pharmaceutical Hits All Time High After Deal With Bayer. But Does It Need Prohibition In Order to Succeed?

However, real world results were first reported in 1890!

In Marihuana, The Forbidden Medicine, Dr. Lester Grinspoon cited a Lancet article by Dr J. Russell Reynolds in which Reynolds said that “a moderate dose of Indian hemp – viz., one quarter to one third of a grain of extract given at bedtime” was very effective in treating “senile insomnia.” (Notice that this was not “smoked-marijuana.”)
See
“No Medicine Is Smoked.” Okay, But Why Isn’t Cannabis Sold Over-the-Counter? New MAPS/NORML Vaporizer Study Undermines Key Part Of Prohibitionist Party Line On “Smoked-Marijuana.”

Now, almost 115 years later, the Alzheimer’s Association and the researchers are still afraid even to suggest that people might try cannabis. No, we wouldn’t want to rush things.

Meanwhile back in the real world, there is a lot of data that is being ignored by the scientific community’s unscientific refusal to observe the results of medical cannabis by members of compassion societies in the US and Canada, as well as people enrolled in various state medical marijuana programs.

And this will not be surprising to readers of MarijuanaNews. I have written about it several times.

For example, on June 14, 2000, the Oregon Health Division added agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease to the list of conditions qualifying medical cannabis under the state’s medical marijuana law.
See
Great Article In Oregon State University Paper on Medical Marijuana.

Although people suffering from Alzheimer’s related agitation might be relatively advanced in the onset of the disease, it would surely be worthwhile to observe if there was a slowing of their decline.

There have also been other reports on how cannabis can protect the brain.
See
The Ultimate Betrayal: Depriving Our Troops of Medical Cannabis. But It Is Okay to Give Combat Pilots Speed. US Army Tests Proved Cannabis Works Four Years Ago!
and
Could Medical Marijuana Have Prevented Gulf War Syndrome?
Derivative Combats Nerve Gas, Say Israeli Reports
and
Marijuana Derivative Blocks Irreversible Brain Damage After Accidents;
Another Way Marijuana Prohibition Kills
and
Cannabis May Prevent Brain Damage From Strokes; Slow Progress of Alzheimers and Parkinsonism
DEAland National Institute of Mental Health Study, But Reported In British Media

This latest study simply provides a scientific explanation for the benefits of cannabis for Alzheimer patients. However, it is not necessary that we know how a drug works in order for it to be approved for medical use. Aspirin is an excellent example of a drug that has been widely used for a century, even though we still do not fully understand.

Of course, the question in the headline, Could Medical Cannabis Have Saved Ronald Reagan From The Worst Of Alzheimer’s? was intended to be provocative, but the answer is almost certainly affirmative. Reagan’s long life meant that he suffered longer from the worst of Alzheimer’s than most people. His devoted wife also had to endure seeing his decline over a period of years. The Reagans could afford to hire nurses and others to spare the family the onerous burden that exhausts most families, physically, emotionally, and financially, but that does not lesson the heartbreak.

The fact that they were responsible for so much of the suppression of medical cannabis, the one thing that could have lessoned their suffering, is irony worthy of a Greek tragedy.

However, they are not alone in having caused themselves so much anguish. While the AARP survey did show that a substantial majority of older Americans now favor medical access to cannabis, the older the respondent in the poll, the more likely it was that he or she was opposed even to that.

It is hard to imagine a harsher justice than having so many people punished so cruelly for their own ignorance and bigotry. It would be comforting if we could just blame the Reagans, but this is the tragedy of a generation. Will they wait until the terrifying darkness descends on them and millions more, hoping that someone will give them a legal synthetic, or will they take control of their own lives and use a plant?
See
Live Free or Die – In Pain. The Ignorance and Arrogance of the Quacks Who Deny Pain Relief to the Sick and Dying.

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