A Canadian doctor is offering a grim prognosis for people who still support marijuana prohibition.
”Clearly, everyone knows that prohibition has not worked with any substance known to man,” Canadian physician Paul Sandor said recently. “And this is the same [with] cannabis,” he added. “Prohibition has never worked.”
Sandor made those remarks earlier this month at 'Why Should I Care' — a weekly, volunteer-driven speaker series held in Toronto. For the special, cannabis-themed event, Sandor was joined by prominent cannabis activist and entrepreneur Jodie Emery.
Dr. Sandor, who studies Tourette’s Syndrome, also said that over the course of his research, he has met many patients offering anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana helps them.
“Now, I could speak from personal experience,” Sandor continued. “My patients who have Tourette syndrome often tell me that it is helpful for them to use this substance. They tell me their symptoms melt away, but it’s a subjective report… do they really melt away or do not care about it anymore?” the doctor said to some snickers in the crowd.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of hard evidence available right now to support those claims about marijuana's health benefits.
“There are reports, and case studies, but not very much substantial data to back it up,” Sandor explained, though he admitted that case studies appear to demonstrate it can be quite helpful for pediatric patients suffering from Dravet’s syndrome, which can cause daily seizures. “Similarly, there is some support for treatment of pain and spasticity and nausea – the rest is still in the works.”
And he hopes that legalization will allow more studies into the health benefits and potential risks of cannabis use.
“I have seen good and bad side effects of cannabis, and I think it’s a complex issue,” Sandor stated at one point, later adding, “There is data to suggest that among the people who smoke cannabis, about 9% become dependent. So they will crave it –“
“Like coffee,” interjected Emery.
“Well, like coffee, there are other substances to which one can become addicted,” Sandor countered. “And certainly there are a higher percentage of people potentially addicted to alcohol, but 9% is not insignificant."
And he worries that stat might increase when marijuana becomes more available in Canada following legalization.
“The other thing we know about alcohol is that the more available it is, the larger the number of people who will become addicted,” the researcher continued. “I can anticipate that as cannabis becomes more widely available, it will increase the number of people who will become dependent and may require services to deal with that.”
But while the two panelists differed on many more points throughout the evening, but one thing Sandor and Emery did emphatically agree on was that prohibition doesn’t work.
Banner Image: Customers at a Philadelphia bar after Prohibition's end, Dec. 1933 (Everett Historical/Shutterstock)