DRUG ADVISORY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA COMMENTS:
Self-medication is bad medicine. Any decent health practitioner and responsible government understands this fact. The AMA has commented saying that “any therapeutic potential of cannabis requires more research!”1 This statement by our leading medical body is important to note on two levels.
Firstly, the ‘self-medication’ experiment has been run and done! The USA had its highest number of registered addicts in the late 19th Century for one reason only – Substances such as opium and cocaine were ‘peddled’ as medicine without regulation or testing. Bought and sold on the free market as one would purchase an analgesic at a supermarket. People determined their own dose, according to their felt need, and perceived benefit, unaware of side effect or long term impact – This failed experiment led to the commencement of prescription processes and the regulation and classification of current illicit drugs.
Secondly, is that foundational principles of good healthcare/practice dictate that untested and unregulated psychotropic substances be kept from the community as their potential for damage and/or dysfunction of users is high. The two foundation principles of disease and/or dysfunction management are to
1) reduce/minimise susceptibility and
2) reduce/minimize exposure.
Taxpayer funded healthcare initiatives will also insist on these measure for best practice. Any practice or medication that can potentially increase either, susceptibility or exposure to further disease/dysfunction, cannot be permitted in patient care – Self-determined ‘experimentation’ on patients, by even the best medical practitioners with substances (let alone an unqualified parent), would be an outrage.
Proper testing and regulation of all potential medicine is imperative and any mechanism that negates these protective processes must be scrutinized fully and carefully. Good science and wise socio-political policy making cannot be ‘over-ridden’ by emotional vitriol and manufactured media consensus. One does not ‘vote’ on which chemicals should be made freely available to the population. To do so is to set a disturbing precedent that will ultimately unleash a ‘self-medication tsunami’.
It is vital to note that in the USA ‘medical opium’ (prescribed regulated opiates) is now killing four times the number of people (over 16000 in 2010) than the illegal form; heroin.3 This is the result of ‘self-medication’.
Cannabis is not a benign substance with some therapeutic values; it has a significant number of physiological, biological and psychological negative impacts. “Although the general public may perceive cannabis to be the least harmful illicit drug, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of persons seeking treatment for cannabis use disorders over the past decade, particularly in the Americas, Oceania and Europe.”2 Cannabis is a complex substance with what is known as an ‘entourage effect’, which makes it near impossible to extract the potential ‘beneficial’ constituents from the other toxic elements of the plant. Having said that, Cannabis derived and tested/regulated medications are already in the market place to manage pain and other medical conditions, i.e. dronabinol (Marinol), nabilone, nabiximols (Sativex) and rimonabant.
1The Daily Telegraph, page 2, 23/7/14
2 Executive Summary:World Drug Report 2014
3 100 Americans die of drug overdoses each day. How do we stop that? February 2014 The Washington Post
For compassion and wisdom sake DACA recommends
Full investigation and testing of potential therapeutic components of Cannabis to ensure short and long term safety for patients. (Let’s not repeat the Cigarette ‘health promotion messages’ of the past)
Proper regulation and management of any therapeutic derivations from Cannabis through the T.G.A (Therapeutic Goods Administration)
Candidates eligible for use of these medications to be given low cost access to them as soon as possible.
That all and every measure be taken to ensure the pro-cannabis lobby and their parliamentary backers do not manipulate/hijack this health agenda to simply further the agenda of legalizing cannabis for ‘recreational’ use.
THE DRUG ADVISORY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS: More drug rehabilitation that gets illicit drug user’s drug free. Court ordered and supervised detoxification & rehabilitation. Less illicit drug users, drug pushers and drug related crimes.