The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol
The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, has just published an essay in the Huffington Post entitled “Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes: The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol (CBD).” A pro-cannabis friend forwarded the link, calling it “a powerful statement.”
Given NIDA’s history and prohibitionist mission, Volkow’s piece can be seen as a step in the right direction. She calls for “addressing barriers that slow clinical research” —a reference to CBD’s absurd status as a Schedule I substance. But that shy, sly allusion is hardly a powerful statement. In fact, “potential promise” — the redundant phrase in the title of Volkow’s CBD essay— reveals an almost laughable level of timidity. And it’s misleading to the point of dishonesty.
Yes, there are many potential uses of CBD for researchers to explore. But the ability of cannabidiol to alleviate symptoms in a wide range of illnesses has been proven —determined, established, QED, confirmed, made evident— in many studies involving animals, several trials with human patients, and thousands of cases monitored by physicians in California, Colorado, and other states where medical use is legal.
To repeat: CBD provides medical benefit. That is a fact, not a “potential promise.”
Nora Volkow is taking part in a stall with tragic consequences. Earlier this week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed drastically limiting allowable exposure to beryllium, a metal used in electronics, dental implants, and other nuclear devices. Berylliium damages the lungs; workers exposed to it can develop a fatal disease (245 cases a year, OSHA estimates).
“OSHA first proposed lowering the beryllium workplace standard in 1975,” wrote Barry Meier in a New York Times dispatch August 5, “but efforts to do so were beaten back over the years by industry resistance, technical debates and political stalling.” (Another misleading sentence. Industry resistance is solely to blame for all those years of excessive exposure to beryllium. Industry resistance took the form of technical debates and political stalling.)
OSHA expects the new limits on beryllium exposure will be in place by late 2016 and “will prevent close to 100 deaths annually.” Accepting OSHA’s numbers (which are probably low) means that 90 American workers have been killed by beryllium exposure each year since 1975. That’s 3,690 deaths —which means the honchos at Materion (formerly Brush Wellman, the only beryllium producer in the US), conspired to kill 3,690 Americans to enhance their profits. How many Americans did Osama bin Laden’s group kill on 911? Why aren’t the Materion execs being charged with murder?
Our local TV news recently showed a Black man working in a community garden in Oakland. He talked about the legal toxins we’re all exposed to in our food, air and water. “They’re killing us,” he warned the reporter, “but they’re killing us slow.”
It happens that 1975 was also the year that the first study showing that CBD has anti-seizure effects was published. Not “potential promise” —anti-seizure effects