Valeant Pharmaceuticals, based out of Costa Mesa, wants to give cancer patients the munchies.
The FDA has just approved Valeant's Cesamet, already on sale in Canada as Nabilone, to moderate nausea and vomiting in those undergoing chemotherapy. A Belgian company has made a similar project, Marinol, for years and years, but considering the U.S. government's conflicting views on the values of medicinal marijuana (FDA versus National Institute of Health), it's significant that the FDA are acknowledging the medicinal benefits of marijuana, or at least certain synthetic derivatives.
Times may finally be a'changin': A major sticking point for the medipot argument is that most people smoke their medicine, whether in joints, bats, bongs, pipes, pieces, blunts, spliffs, dugouts, hookahs, avocados, water bottles, or whatever's lying around the house. Problem is, this is clearly not healthy. Smoked marijuana imparts many of the same health concerns as smoking tobacco (upper respiratory cancers, lung problems). But now that Vaporizers have been accepted as a safe marijuana delivery system, those opposing medicinal marijuana had best find a new tactic.
Cesamet/Nabilone/Marinol are all helpful products; though stronger anti-nausea or pain medication is available, they often involve serious side-effects or potential for addiction. However, they do not contain the 40-odd cannabinoids found in the actual plant; instead they are derivatives of one, delta-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol (THC). People say this is THE active ingredient in marijuana. That's like saying George Bush is THE main problem in the current administration. Fact is, a synthetic derivative of ONE of the many components of cannabis will never have the same efficacy as, say, a whole-plant extract like Sativex.
Years ago, when I couldn't eat for six weeks and was being fed through a tube in my arm, one doctor suggested Marinol to deal with my nausea and vomiting. I was eager to try it, but it didn't help. Sure, I was a bit more giggly, but I still hurt; I still couldn't eat. “Ha ha! I weigh 100 pounds! That's so ridiculous I want to laugh! Ha! Ouch, that hurt…” I was still sick, but no one would take me seriously. Beautiful.
It's good to see U.S. companies finally getting federal support for their work with medicinal marijuana – this was not the case for, well, the 20th century. Still, it illustrates one of the most ineffective and wasteful techniques of government – the Thoughtless Compromise. So marijuana is medicine, but it's also illegal. Okay, we'lll just give patients PARTS of marijuana. And they can't smoke it. That'll do the trick, right?
In Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, an architect designs groundbreaking new urban housing units for a government contract, with brilliant attention to detail, form and function. However, the government cuts corners and costs, resulting in a complete bastardization of the initial project, resulting in hideous monstrosities that only worsen the lives on the downtrodden (did someone say projects?) So the architect burns the bastards down.
There is a sector of America's sick and suffering to whom marijuana offers unique benefits and symptom relief. If Cesamet should work for some of them, that's fantastic and they can stop paying stupidly inflated prices from the few O.C.-based medical marijuana collectives. But if it doesn't, I suggest they think about burning something down.