4:26pm

Tue January 28, 2014
Health, Science, Environment

Is “a puff enough” to ward off disease? This marijuana advocate says yes.

You’ve probably heard the Super Bowl pot jokes (“We’re going to have a smokin’ bowl this year”), because the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are both from America’s only states where recreational marijuana is available (although New York and New Jersey are hosting the game.) It’s mildly funny, and author Clint Werner, author of “Marijuana: Gateway to Health,” sees value in the joking.

“Washington and Colorado’s legalization [of marijuana] have opened up the dialog,” he told an audience last week at the San Francisco Main Library. “Marijuana is no longer completely illegal.”

Werner, a journalist and marijuana advocate living in San Francisco, notes that medical benefits of the plant have been suppressed since the 1930s. He focused on current research showing marijuana’s beneficial qualities for types of cancers. He cited a study showing that males using marijuana have “a significantly lower chance” of getting bladder cancer than non-users. A study of people who were heavy marijuana smokers expected to find increased risk of lung cancer; Werner says the results showed the opposite.

“Alcohol is pro-cancer,” he declares, while marijuana “has an anti-tumor quality.” He sees it as being especially useful for conditions related to inflammation, such as migraine headaches.  (Some audience members nodded in agreement, apparently from personal experience.)

The studies producing these results were not cited, which is just as well, since the presentation was already overly technical at times. They are probably outlined in the book.

But what about people who can’t smoke, or don’t want to, or don’t want the psychoactive effect? That’s the purpose of tinctures, salves and low-dose “edibles,” he says. Someone he knows likes to claim that a daily “puff is enough” to ward off certain serious conditions.

But marijuana famously makes users spacey, and causes short-term memory loss. That can be overcome, says Werner. He likened it to the first time we do anything. People learn how to modulate the effect with proper use. And, he adds, it is only short-term memory, which returns.

Werner replies to the volatile question, “What about the children?” with a question of his own: “What about the parents?” Kids won’t get into trouble with pot if their parents do their jobs. And he stresses that teens younger than about 18 should not be smoking at all. “They need to be concentrating on other things.” Their brains are still developing.

As public opinion shifts in favor of legalization (or at least licensed control), Werner notes three types of opponents:

1.   Profiteers (medical and law enforcement, receiving anti-drug funding)

2.   Authoritarians (“People who want to bully adults into how they should live their lives.”) He includes conservative talk-show hosts in this category.

3.   Ignorant people (“They just don’t know.”)

Marijuana can be a first step to a troubled life, though, can’t it? “I use marijuana,” Werner says, “and I’m a good person.” 

That sentiment might be echoed by many of those upstanding residents of Colorado and Washington who will soon be rooting for the most mainstream sport in America: the Super Bowl.

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