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Posted: August 23, 2014

Medical marijuana – wonder drug or just another addiction?

Gerry WarnerPerceptions by Gerry Warner

“Marijuana madness,” screamed a recent headline in the Globe and Mail in an obvious reference to ‘Reefer Madness,’ a highly exaggerated scare flick put out by a church group in 1936 to convince youth that insanity and perdition awaited if they ever took a drag from a cannabis cigarette.

In the 1960s, the film became a cult classic used to spoof the supposed dangers of the “devil’s weed.”

Well, we’ve come a long way since then with pot – I mean ‘medical marijuana’ – considered by many to be the new wonder drug and cure-all for everything from cancer to your hair falling out. Indeed, the real ‘devil weed’ today is plain old cigarettes which are now sold in packages with grotesque pictures of cancerous lungs and putrid gore even more frightening than the hilarious portrayal of marijuana in the ‘30s.

This is progress, I guess.

Whatever the case, the rehabilitation – some might call it the “beatification” – of marijuana’s reputation to something akin to sacred smoke has now hit the point of pot—I mean ‘medical marijuana’ – becoming one of the hottest commodities around and the darling of the stock market since Health Canada announced it would start issuing licenses for entrepreneurs to grow the devil’s weed in commercial quantities for those who believe it will cure everything from glaucoma to a declining libido.

Mind you, the Canadian Medical Association is not of the same opinion saying in its latest policy statement “there remains scant evidence regarding the effectiveness of the herbal form of marijuana.”

The CMA also opposes the Health Canada program because it requires medical marijuana users to obtain a physician’s prescription to access the program. The “courts have not addressed the ethical position in which physicians are placed as a result of becoming the gate keeper for access to a medication without full knowledge of its effectiveness, proper dosage, or short and long-term side effects,” says the CMA.

Despite the CMA’s medical, ethical and legal concerns investors are lining up to get in the pot business in what amounts to a modern day gold rush. Junior mining companies are even rebranding themselves as medical marijuana firms “almost overnight” to get in on the rush, says the Globe. The excitement is so high that stock regulators in both Canada and the U.S. have issued warnings to investors to tread carefully around medical marijuana stocks.

And in the midst of all the excitement who returns to Canada after serving a five-year sentence in the U.S. for trafficking in marijuana seeds? You guessed it, none other than Marc Emery, the self-described “Prince of Pot” vowing “revenge” against Stephen Harper’s Tories for prosecuting him and saying he will campaign for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2015 federal election while his wife Jodi seeks a Liberal nomination in Vancouver East.

Emery made his vow last week to hundreds of supporters under a cloud of smoke in Vancouver’s Victory Square. And it wasn’t tobacco smoke.

No surprise there because acceptance of marijuana usage is growing quickly. Back in 2012, John McKay, the US attorney who prosecuted Emery, appeared at a news conference in Vancouver and said he now supports marijuana legalization. “I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can, marijuana prohibition, criminal prohibition of marijuana is a complete failure,” McKay told the CBC.

That may be the case, but is it ‘healthy’ to smoke pot? Common sense says it’s not healthy to smoke anything and that’s certainly how this lifetime tobacco non-smoker feels. However, I did smoke some weed in my university days, but I wouldn’t describe its effects as “healthy.”

I did get a pleasant buzz, but I also got silly, paranoid and developed a craving for the munchies. However, Cannabis smoke has more than 400 chemicals in it, some of them toxic and carcinogenic. Despite this, some 200 medical conditions supposedly get relief from medical marijuana including glaucoma, epilepsy and arthritis.

Whatever the case, when Health Canada starts licensing marijuana factories can full legalization be far behind? And when that day comes, I imagine it will be about as ‘healthy’ for society as the ending of prohibition.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and Cranbrook City Councillor. His opinions are his own, and if you gave him a joint today, he wouldn’t know which end to light.

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