I confess to being not that much interested in medical science. Recent consultations with not one, not two, but three (count 'em -- 3) doctors have resulted in advice to keep taking the aspirin. That's all. Nevertheless, I am not unaware of the current trend... or fad... for the ingestion of marijuana as a means of easing pain. 100 years ago it was morphine. 150 years ago it was opium. Today it's marijuana. So it goes.
The big question now is how to get the active ingredient -- cannabis -- into your body. Health experts are emphasizing the need for doctors and patients to consider the sometimes serious side effects linked to the various ways of consuming the drug.
According to a recent report from Canadian Press, Paul Farnan, an addictions specialist at the University of British Columbia, likened a recommendation to smoke medicinal marijuana to a doctor handing out a prescription to light up an opium pipe. "We know there's something in opium that helps pain," he said, "and we're able to pharmaceutically develop morphine and other analgesics, but we wouldn't say to people, 'You have pain? Why don't you smoke opium?'.... Cannabis is actually a really dangerous thing for your lungs."
Mikhail Kogan, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University in Washington DC, goes a bit farther. "We have so many other products now, so many modes of delivery, that smoking in my opinion is very archaic and has very little clinical applicability," he said, adding, "I think that probably the majority of people still smoke because it's the most available method."
But, he explained, it's difficult to absorb enough of the drug through the lungs, and gastric acids interfere when someone eats it. So much for marijuana brownies! Thank goodness there are other means, such as placing a wad of the magic leaves under the tongue, as one would do with qat. [What is this "qat" of which you speak? How do you know this? Ed.]
OK, never mind about the qat. If placing the medicine under your tongue doesn't appeal, Dr. Kogan suggests another method of getting it into ya, to wit: "Rectally is actually a lot more preferred because of the volume of absorption. You can put a lot more and it gets absorbed a lot better, but not everybody is open to this way of administration."
Note from Ed.: We regret that owing to limitations of space, we'll have to save the rest of the good doctor's advice for later.