Does The Pot Pill Work?
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Does The Pot Pill Work?
Posted by CN Staff on August 04, 2009 at 05:09:09 PT
By Brian Montopoli
Source: CBS News
CBS --  "Medical marijuana," the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says, "already exists."They don't just mean in California. A pill known as Marinol has been legal and approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with a prescription anywhere in America since 1985. It's active ingredient? Dronabinol, better known as THC, the primary psychoactive element of the cannabis plant.
"Marinol provides standardized THC concentrations, does not contain the other 400 uncharacterized substances found in smoked marijuana, such as carcinogens or fungal spores, and is not associated with the quick high of smoked marijuana," said Neil Hirsch, a spokesman for Marinol manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals.But Marinol is not the same thing as traditional, smokable marijuana. It is a less complex substance lacking both some of the good components found in traditional marijuana (such as cannabidiol, which has been found to have anti-seizure effects) and the bad or not-yet-fully-understood components (among them potential carcinogens) that can also come with the drug.Ken Trainer, a 60-year-old Massachusetts resident who has battled Multiple Sclerosis for 25 years, said he has long been smoking marijuana to deal with the regular tremors he gets in his arms and legs."If I smoke a joint, the tremors go away most times before the joint is gone," he said. "It makes my life a little easier." Marinol, by contrast, "didn't really do much of anything for me," he said.56-year-old Des Moines resident Jeff Elton, who was diagnosed with gastroparesis six years ago, had a similar experience when he was prescribed Marinol to deal with his chronic nausea and vomiting."I felt no relief, I didn't feel ill, I felt nothing," he said. "It might as well be M&M's."Elton said he switched to marijuana, which he smokes through a vaporizer - a device that heats the active ingredients into a vapor instead of burning them. He said it allows him to keep down his food and regain some of the weight he lost while on Marinol."One problem with Marinol is that it's orally administered," Dr. Mitch Earleywine, an associate professor of Clinical Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, said in an email. "Therefore, it takes longer to work than cannabis inhaled from a vaporizer. (Usually 90 minutes at best rather than 15 seconds - a meaningful amount of time to the nauseated.)""It's harder to control dosage, too, so folks end up discombobulated or without symptom relief," he added. "In addition, folks who are vomiting can't hold down the pills." Earleywine also said that a dose Marinol costs three to five times as much as a comparable dose of medical marijuana.Defenders note that Marinol is not meant to be a cure-all: It has been approved specifically for treating nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and for treating anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS."When the whole push for the smoked product came along, it was often for those two indications," said Dr. Herbert Kleber, a professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and the former deputy drug czar under President George H.W. Bush. "And in general, I've not seen any need for the smoked form of marijuana for those two indications. Marinol had already been shown to be quite effective for those two things.""Are there actions in the whole plant that you don't get from just the Marinol? I would be surprised if there wasn't," he continued. "The problem is that most of the data about the potential medical actions of the smoked form are anecdotal."Research into the effects of medical marijuana is ongoing: The University of California, San Diego, for example, boasts a Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research engaged in "focused controlled clinical trials on the efficacy of cannabis in patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer, seizures or muscle spasms associated with a chronic debilitating condition, or any other serious condition providing sufficient theoretical justification." (The director of the UCSD program, Dr. Igor Grant, was out of the country and could not be reached for this story.)The Los Angeles Times, which offers a nice overview of the current research, writes that "a growing body of research supports [medical marijuana's] medical usage, but some of it is cautionary." Marijuana has been found to be effective in counteracting severe pain, nausea and loss of appetite, though questions remain about the drawbacks, among them possible respiratory damage and increased cancer risk.Dr. Kleber, who said he has prescribed Marinol to a patient and found it to be effective, points to what he characterizes as a significant advantage of the pill over traditional marijuana: "People don't abuse it.""Marijuana addiction is becoming common and as a result I'm seeing an increasing number of people who have trouble stopping marijuana," he said. "Contrary to popular beliefs that there is no marijuana withdrawal, there is marijuana withdrawal. It's very clear cut."The calculus, then, isn't quite as simple as the Drug Enforcement Administration suggests: Marinol and medical marijuana may share an active ingredient, but they offer somewhat different benefits and different drawbacks. Proponents of medicinal marijuana say it's disingenuous to hold up Marinol as a direct alternative to the more traditional form of the plant."I just don't understand how they won't let me smoke a joint, but they're more than happy to write me out prescriptions for anything that I want," Trainer said.Note: The Government Says a Pill Called Marinol Offers the Same Benefits as Medical Marijuana. Is it True?Special Report: Marijuana Nation: The New War Over Weed: CBS News (US Web)Author:  Brian MontopoliPublished: August 4, 2009Copyright: 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.Website: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #27 posted by Paint with light on August 05, 2009 at 22:43:09 PT
middle 70's prices
In the middle 1970's I would pick up ten 2 pound bricks and return 135.00 per pound within two weeks. I would sell 18 pounds at 150.00 each and break down two of the pounds into ounces and sell those for 15.00 each.I didn't make much money but I had all I could smoke and I felt I was providing a good service.Then came Columbian and prices went to 250.00 a pound with no fronting.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #26 posted by gloovins on August 05, 2009 at 22:13:31 PT
Oh yeah,
I don't think they do themselves any favors when they name a strain "green crack" but hey, it's their business to run not mine...
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Comment #25 posted by gloovins on August 05, 2009 at 22:11:23 PT
prices in LA
this "D", as I call them, is the best priced IMO in LA:'s just a matter of time really because as the supply grows, the price goes down. So really the 900+ dispensiaries in LA County is a good thing -- it's forcing the price of an Oz down daily it seems. The for-profit model is based on greed but the market won't allow for it if the mkt is flooded like it is... BTW, I would *gladly* pay $10 an OZ. for any quality in this day & age.... = )
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Comment #24 posted by Hope on August 05, 2009 at 21:24:03 PT
Comment 22 Charmed Quark
Lol!You could be right about that, Charmed Quark. No doubt.That's the way it was.... "And we LIKED IT!":0)
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on August 05, 2009 at 16:03:13 PT
charmed quark 
What I have never really heard anywhere is what is a fair amount of money that people should make for being a part of the process of growing? Do growers get about the same amount of money as the people who sell it in a dispensary? When a product is semi legal ( medical marijuana ) it is hard to come up with a fair scale for reimbursement in my opinion.
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Comment #22 posted by charmed quark on August 05, 2009 at 15:35:19 PT
More like a $55.80 lid ...
Of course, we are kinda acting like old farts forgetting about inflation ( What do you mean penny candy costs 25 cents?!). $10 in 1970 dollars is worth about $55.80 now!
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Comment #21 posted by charmed quark on August 05, 2009 at 15:16:50 PT
Back then, it WAS field grown in Mexico. Most of the cost was from smuggling it into the USA. In Mexico it was probably $10 a kilogram, probably including the cost of bribes to the local police. Although it wasn't that high a quality as almost none of it was sensimillia. But I liked it back then - a very mellow style of pot. Not this overbred high THC/low CBD stuff they grow now.Storm Crow - it costs you $20/ounce, mostly in electricity, fertilizer and maybe replacement bulbs, but you aren't including the value of your labor. If you have to pay staff to help grow it, or pay yourself a salary because it is your full-time job growing for other people, the cost goes way up even if you take a very modest salary.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on August 05, 2009 at 12:19:20 PT
I agree. When cannabis can be mass produced indoors or outdoors the price will be minimal. When the price falls it won't be a valuable commodity anymore. That will put an end to the crime associated with marijuana that is going on now.
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on August 05, 2009 at 11:54:55 PT
The only reason for the outrageous prices
is it'a illegality.Even at ten dollars and ounce... it was that high because it was illegal and there was risk in smuggling it.Can you imagine if spinach, corn, wheat, or even tobbacco was ten dollars an ounce? One reason and one reason only that it brings a price so far beyond reason... prohibition.Prohibition of a common, desirable to many, consumable substance is the ultimate price support system for suppliers of that substance and the siezure/forfeiture system keeps it profitable for the law enforcers. All the inflated profits and money flying around everywhere leads to more and more corruption and more and more wrongs and undesirable outcomes on every level of society.During prohibition you are not paying for the prohibited substance ... you're having to pay for the risks so many people have to take to get the product to you.*sigh*
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on August 05, 2009 at 10:10:01 PT
Storm Crow
I really appreciate your input. I agree it could become very inexpensive. 
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Comment #17 posted by Storm Crow on August 05, 2009 at 09:59:59 PT
Using CFLs and growing in dirt indoors, it costs me about $20 per ounce to grow. Most of that is for electricity. If I were able to grow outside, my cost would drop. I would have bigger plants and no electric bill, but my situation is such that outdoor growing is unwise, even though I am "California legal". I think you are quite right, FoM, that the price would drop, but I think you are underestimating the drop! I think the old $10 ounce will eventually come back, once every granny has a few plants tucked away amid her rose bushes.The only two reasons for the high price are that the price is artificially maintained by the government's prohibition, and plain old GREED!The big legalization drop in prices will effectively remove the incentive for crime syndicates- they follow the money. Our forests would no longer be polluted by massive, illegal grows. You know, if the federal government doesn't legalize cannabis soon, we, the people, will do it the hard way- city by city, county by county and state by state, until "big government" has no choice! There is more than one way to stage a revolution! 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on August 05, 2009 at 06:12:27 PT
charmed quark 
I believe the prices will drop when the market gets flooded with volumes of cannabis and more people open up dispensaries. Then they will have to drop prices to stay competitive and the medical marijuana patient will benefit. Supply and demand will help in the end.
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Comment #15 posted by charmed quark on August 05, 2009 at 04:24:38 PT
High prices
It's easier to understand in places where cannabis is totally illegal. But even in California, growers are taking a risk both with the police and thieves and have to do very expensive things to stay safe. And most of the real high-quality stuff is grown indoors under lights. And there is a lot of labor involved in the whole "system" and labor is expensive. Plus a lot of the dispensaries seem to be on a profit model, adding a large markup.
Although ome of the dispensaries are using a non-profit model but using the "profits" to offer other services to patients.If cannabis could be field grown, in, say, 1/2 acre plots scattered around and there was little theft, like they do in Switzerland ( I saw an article that they plant some cannabis outside the fences so would-be thieves satisfy themselves with that and leave the field inside the fence alone), prices would be way lower. Although Swiss field-grown pot seems to be very low quality, partly due to poor genes of their seeds, partly do to lack of sunlight.But for indoor, light-based, secure growing and distribution, even under the aegis of the state, it gets expensive. The $100 per ounce would be a long-term goal. Initial much higher until the benefits of scale started kicking in.
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Comment #14 posted by Vincent on August 04, 2009 at 20:39:38 PT:
Dr. Kleber
Who is this fool, Dr. Kleber? He's a "doctor" and he says such irresponsible things as, "Marijuana withdrawal is real"? Or is he just parroting the things his "masters" tell him? 'Marijuana withdrawal'? That's a new one.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 17:39:32 PT
charmed quark
I can't figure out why cannabis prices are that high. There is quality cannabis I bet in every state. It can't be because it is so much better. There was a day when people bought seeds and maybe people still do but that is why I think quality is almost everywhere.
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Comment #12 posted by charmed quark on August 04, 2009 at 17:03:37 PT
yeah if you don't have pharmacy insurance
Even the ridiculous dispensary pot prices in California start to look good compared to Marinol.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 16:46:21 PT
charmed quark 
That's terrible. I don't know how people can afford prices like those.
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Comment #10 posted by charmed quark on August 04, 2009 at 16:38:33 PT
generic is about $13 per 5 mg pill, brand name about $16.People I know who use Marinol for MS and take about 4 a day, so that's over $1900 a month for the brand name.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 16:29:07 PT
charmed quark 
That's a great price for Marinol. If a person doesn't have insurance what would it cost? If you can get the price of cannabis for an ounce to around $100 that sounds reasonable. If people could grow their own it would be very reasonable. 
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Comment #8 posted by charmed quark on August 04, 2009 at 15:54:37 PT
Marinol cheaper for me because of insurance
Marinol is covered by my insurance. It recently went generic so mu monthly copay is only $10 for whatever amount I need.Our state is soon going to legalize medical cannabis but will allow it to be bought only at state approved non-profit "alternative health centers". No patient growing. I've been analyzing the cost for some people considering setting up one of these centers who want to try to get the cost of the medical cannabis as low as possible. But because of state regs and administration costs, security concerns with the need to grow indoors and the high cost of labor I doubt I can get it below $100/ounce. Some patients need up to 2 ounces a month. That's $2400/year and not covered by insurance. For something the patients could grown almost for free if they could plant in their backyards.BTW - I hate Marinol. In addition to the problems mentioned in the article, it also gives me strong anxiety and doesn't work nearly as well for spasms and pain as the natural stuff. It's probably the lack of CBD that causes all these problems.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 13:39:08 PT
Cost of Marinol
I know Marinol costs a lot of money and cannabis can be grown practically for free and made into an edible form that works without smoking it. Who can afford Marinol?
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Comment #6 posted by GeoChemist on August 04, 2009 at 12:23:27 PT
Let's see, if I go out and impersonate a cop I go to jail, but if a cop impersonates a doctor or research scientist......
A certificate from a junior college does not make one an authority on anything dealing with chemical toxicity and behavior. I can't wait until the DEAth is dissolved and the indictments start. Look at it like this: there are many jobs LEO's qualify for, litter-picker-upper, fast-food cook (maybe), mall guard, the list goes on.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 08:11:36 PT
Power Struggle
These days I am just reading and watching what is going on. Since President Obama has backed off medical marijuana the power struggle has kicked in. It's interesting to watch.
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Comment #4 posted by dongenero on August 04, 2009 at 08:05:26 PT
"Big Money"power struggle
They desperately want to develop a synthesized drug that will fulfill all the benefits of the natural plant.They will not want to openly admit the efficacy of cannabinoids as medicine until it is achieved as a patentable synthesis that can be controlled by Big Pharma and the FDA.How ridiculous.
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Comment #3 posted by ezrydn on August 04, 2009 at 07:14:16 PT:
I don't get it
They're afraid for us to smoke or vap 15-20% THC but more than willing to give us clearance for a 100% THC pill. Talk about WTF!! And why do they believe (where's the empirical evidence) that the other included chemicals in the plant are of no use? I have 100% PTSD. I vap a single hit. I don't get enough to get any "buzz" or high but the scourge of a PTSD moment goes away. So, it's NOT the THC that's assisting me. At least, the Israeli Army knows how to handle PTSD with their troops. They got it right! I just wish we could.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 04, 2009 at 07:12:28 PT
OT: Bill Clinton in North Korea
I really hope and pray that President Clinton can get the girls released. 
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Comment #1 posted by GeoChemist on August 04, 2009 at 06:05:47 PT
Are people really this stupid?
The DEAth sayeth does not make it so. The LEO says maedical marijuana is bad, wtf? They are not doctors or research scientists, not even CLOSE. The funny (not really) thing is natural THC with the empirical formula: C-21 H-30 O-2 is a shedule I substance while synthetic THC with the empirical formula C-21 H-30 O-2 is a schedule III. Again, WTF?
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