Letters to the editor. Western News graphic

Letter: Herbal drugs need more study

Hello again, thank you for all of your replies on Facebook and via the newspaper to my letter to the editor (Penticton Western News, Feb. 24, Not in a position to practice medicine).

Here is a summary of what I understood from them.

Apparently, I don’t like marijuana dispensaries. Apparently, I represent the pharmaceutical industry (?) and I desire that herbal products remain classified. Also apparently, I want to prevent you from smoking marijuana medicinally.

This is very strange, because they aren’t my opinions at all. I certainly don’t recall stating this in my letter. Let me clarify.

It does not concern me how you evaluate which treatment is right for you. You don’t need to see a doctor for a prescription if you don’t want to. You don’t need to see a pharmacist for an opinion about the drug/herb/treatment if you don’t wish to.

I would very much like to see herbal drugs declassified for private, personal use and properly studied.

The problem I have is with unqualified people promoting cannabis and making money from it in the process. I like to refer to these individuals as ‘complicit villains.’

Amongst the Facebook backlash, a young lady commented that marijuana is (verbatim) “proven to kill cancer cells.” Herein lies the problem. Some components of marijuana have indeed been shown to kill ‘some’ cancer cells, in some specific situations — in mice.

Conversely, ‘some’ components of marijuana have been shown to increase the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells. Once again, in mice. (Mckallip et al, journal of immunology 2005).

Please note the ‘mice.’ The pharmacist would call this ‘compelling’ preclinical evidence, not conclusive. The pharmacist wouldn’t yet go so far to state that inhaling passive weed smoke may increase the incidence of breast cancer by the same token that I wouldn’t state to a cancer patient that using marijuana will cure them.

Notice that the pharmacist leaves a reference as to where his data came from. This is because the pharmacist is trained and regulated in ethics.

Martyn Lewis, MPharm