Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Marinol Cannot Substitute for Marijuana

It is often said that there is no reason to permit the use of natural marijuana by patients because they can instead use Marinol. The argument goes that Marinol is marijuana in pill form. It is not. Marinol is a synthetic copy of the delta9-THC molecule. Natural marijuana contains a number of active ingredients, or cannabinoids, not just THC. One of the major cannabinoids that marijuana contains, but Marinol does not, is cannabidiol, or CBD.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. On the Counterpunch website Weekend Edition of December 22/23, 2007, Fred Gardner’s review of studies on CBD credited it with being an anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic, anti-oxidant and an immune system modulator with neuro-protective properties. In Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, vol. 30 no.3 Sao Paulo, Sept. 2008 (English translation) Antonio Waldo Zuardi of the Dept. of Neurology at Universidade de Sao Paulo reviewed many studies and concluded that CBD has a beneficial effect on several conditions. He listed Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, other inflammatory diseases, nausea and cancer. Since Marinol does not contain CBD, or any cannabinoids other than THC, there is no reason to believe it will be helpful to a patient suffering from any of these disorders. Natural marijuana will be helpful for these ailments, as many patients have discovered.

Oral administration of Marinol creates two problems. When taken orally, Marinol is transformed into several metabolites. One is 11-hydroxy-THC, which is considered to be much more psychoactive than delta9-THC. It is produced in far greater amounts when taken orally than when marijuana is smoked or vaporized and inhaled. Furthermore, the synthetic THC in Marinol is absorbed unevenly in the gastro-intestinal tract. Given the uneven absorption rate and the increased psychoactivity of 11-hydroxy-THC, a patient may find a dosage that is perfectly adequate on one day will, on another day, leave him or her dysfunctional due to an unpleasantly powerful high that lasts for hours. On a third day, that very same dose may prove to be inadequate, having little effect at all. By contrast, smoked or vaporized marijuana can be inhaled one small hit at a time only until the desired effect is achieved.

Marinol is also more expensive than marijuana. A likely monthly cost for most marijuana patients is between $75.00 and $300.00. Marinol often costs a patient between $200.00 and $800.00 monthly, with many reports of patients spending over $1,000.00 per month.

Marijuana is cheaper, more consistent and dependable in its effects on the user. Most importantly, unlike Marinol, it contains all the cannabinoids that are helpful for a much larger number of conditions than Marinol is. Natural marijuana really is necessary for many patients and Marinol should not be passed off as an acceptable substitute.

-- contributed by ASA guest blogger T. Dubb

Thanks T. Dubb for the critical insight! This is just one piece of the puzzle out of many, which our friends, neighbors, and LEGISLATORS need to be educated on so that Maryland can move forward in protecting medical patients...

Thoughtfully Yours,

The Maryland Chapter of Americans for Safe Access


POZ said...

Why I Should Be Able To Smoke Marijuana Legally In USA:

I have a prescription for Marinol, but there is only 2mg of synthetic THC (and no other cannabinoids mixed in, the marijuana plant has over 20 different variations of cannabinoids that may make the difference) are in each tablet and too get the same calming feeling I get from a 1/4 gram joint (one normal tobacco cigarette contains about a gram of plant material) I have to take about 5 to 10 Marinol pills (about $75 per dosage). If I am not feeling well and I feel nauseous, then I cannot swallow the pills easily whereas I can still smoke some "weed" (as long as I do not over do it and start coughing and gagging). Now this 2mg Marinol pill costs about $8 US whereas it only costs me about $0.20 (20 cents) for the same amount in the "devil weed" (each gram of marijuana contains about 50 - 75mg of THC and costs me 10 bucks, 50mg of Marinol would cost about $200.00 US). If I was allowed to grow my own marijuana plants for medical use, it would only cost me 1 cent (or less) a MG to produce.

I have AIDS (got HIV from open heart surgery in the 1980s when I was a teenager) and often I do not feel that great in the mornings or after taking medications. Marijuana will make me feel better if I smoke (vaporizer is the safest way to smoke it) some within 5 minutes. Also, synthetic THC that is legal to prescribe by doctors somewhat works (not as well though and it takes 2 to 3 hours for the effects to be noticed and appreciated). Seems like a scam that I can legally have THC from a pharmaceutical company (inflated 1000 times the retail "street price" or 50,000 times more cost that for me to produce my own) but I cannot grow my own (I guess the pharmaceutical companies make the rules so their profits are not threatened). I feel the pharmacies are taking advantage of sick people like me and trying to get every alst cent from em before I expire!

Sure you can possibly get cancer from smoking weed in a cigarette form, but there are many alternatives that cut the risk to almost nothing or have no cancer risks at all. For example, eating it is actually good for you, it's basically a vegetable high in vitamins and antioxidants (but the effects take 1 to 2 hours to notice, whereas smoking or vaporizing THC you feel the effects in 2 minutes). You can vaporize it with a contraption that heats the THC crystals just enough that the evaporate, but the leafy plant material does not burn (the carcinogens are in the burnt plant material, so if you do not actually burn the plant then no dirty carcinogens). THC can be extracted into oils (THC is not water soluble, but it can be mixed in alcohol to make a spray) like butter, than spread on toast or used in cooking. There is also ways of spraying THC remedies in your mouth (leave it sit for a few minutes without swallowing) and the membranes in your mouth will absorb it directly to your blood stream). You can also stick marijuana up your butt (anally inserted), but this method I would never try (yuck).

Many people claim that "pot" makes people useless and lazy. Well with me, without marijuana I am actually a dull, lazy and unproductive person who would rather watch TV all day as an escape. With some THC in my system, I get to work on my home business and make it grow or feel more sociable to spend time with my family. Other people claim that pot makes you an insance rapist, for me, I would rather work on my home business than to get "laid". Other people think it causes craziness, well I am more crazy and manic without it, I will easily over react without THC wheareas with pot I think more about things before I react (it slows me down).

-clears up (or masks) nauseau caused by AIDS or medications.
-helps with my depression. I smoke a bit and my worries do not seem so bad (now I can actually think about solving them rather than panicking). I also get more motivated to do repetitive tasks (like a job) or do things I would rather find too boring to even start.
-when I feel manic or over stimulated, a few puffs of marijuana will calm me right down. It's like taking a Xanax or Valium that works in 3 minutes instead of 35 minutes (Xanax takes a long time to work, seems even longer when you are having a panic attack).
-helps me as a pain reliever that is fast acting (no 45 minute like with taking Vicoden), only takes a couple minutes for the effects to come on if inhaled THC through lungs or absorbed by mouth.

Even though I have a prescription for Marinol, I from time to time buy street weed, but I would much rather grow it myself so I know its not contaminated or moldy. I do not use Marinol very often (usually go without the THC helpers) as I have to pay the full cost out of pocket (no coverage with insurance) and there is no way I can afford to use $150 to $200 of legal pharmaceutical THC daily (would only cost $10 a day with illegal weed, or would only cost $1 a day if I grew it myself).

Not only should I be able to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, I believe that is should be made legal for everyone! There are over 20,000,000 Americans in jail for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and it takes $45,000 a year to detain them, there's 900 billion dollars ($900,000,000,000.00) of tax payers money wasted every year (almost a trillion dollars). If marijuana was legal, it would be like the end of prohibition, no more "Al Capone's" would be killing over territories and running things. It costs about $1 to produce a gram of marijauna and the governemnt could add a $5 tax to it and then stores could sell it for $10 to $15 for the same gram. Concidering that over 30,000,000 Americans use pot each week (2 to 20 grams used per person), the governments could easily make $400,000,000 extra a month in taxes (that's $4.8 billion a year). Also think about all the money that would be saved on enforcing the marijuana rules (cops could actually go after bad guys and real criminals for a change).

A recent government survey tells us: Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. Over 83 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once. Over 12 million had used the drug in the month before the survey. Another survey, which is conducted yearly, includes students from 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. In 2001, the survey showed that 20 percent of 8th-graders have tried marijuana at least once, and by 10th grade, 20 percent are “current” users (that is, used within the past month.) Among 12th-graders, nearly 50 percent have tried marijuana/hash at least once, and about 22 percent were current users.

Written by the founder of

Clinton said...

Scientists have recently discovered an advantage in one of the most prevalent drug on the planet: the marijuana. According findrxonline article notes that a natural element contained in this banned substance provides protection to brain cells. The discovery has been published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the researchers, this substance, cannabidiol, has antioxidant properties that may act to protect brain cells during stroke. Cannabidiol, said the study's lead author, Aidan Hampson, the American National Institute of Mental Health, "is not active in the brain receptors that allow marijuana to have euphoric effects. However, the expert insisted, "is still too early to say that this substance can get to protect people simply by smoking marijuana." The results of this assertion comes from a study in rats which showed that the substance was very potent antioxidant effects in protecting the brain cells of these animals from the effects caused the stroke. Cannabidiol addition, experts are studying other compounds of marijuana for medical application. In fact, it is investigating the role of a substance called THC in the treatment of various diseases, including stroke. Currently, there is a drug called Marinol that contains THC to treat nausea experienced by many cancer patients.

Anonymous said...

I have hemophilia and contracted HIV and Hep C through contaminated blood products when I was a kid. In my early teens I went to NIH for study's on new HIV meds.

As a older teen I wasn't in great condition and prescribed marinol to offset nausea and most importantly weight maintain or gain. I would take it in the morning before school and it would hit me around 1pm in algebra class, completely stoned, and hungry (good thing they had a vending machine).

There have been times I would be driving and it would hit me, and that was/is most dangerous.
In my early 20's a buddy let me try some maryjoe and it was instant, baloney and cheese never tasted better!
Marino was/is a bit unpredictable, the best way I found to get the best results, minus the unpredictability of it, was to take it two to three hours before bed. The next morn I eat well, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day:-). Even if you felt a little weird you come down quickly after eating a good meal, for me anyway - everybody is different.

I had thought that they were developing a THC inhaler - where the THC could be absorbed into the lungs where it could be activated quickly when you needed it most, for me that is just before meal time - I have a very poor appetite. It would make sense? and a hell of a lot more safe, and that would take into considerations about the cannabinoids folks are so concerned about wouldn't it?

I agree marinol is expensive, EOB Show about $600 a month for generic?

Dominick said...

I have Ulceritive Colitus and was recently prescribed to Marinole 2.5mg twice daily to relieve me of my excrusiating pain, rectal bleeding up to 15 times a day and also including weight loss and unable to eat food. It has been 2 months now and all of the problems ive had with my ulceritive colitus have gone away. Im no longer suffering due to the miracle drug Marinol. Personally I do not agree that smoking marijuana would be better for my condition considering that 1. Marijuana is illegal. 2. Marijuana is generally abused. And thanks to HEALTH INSURANCE my medication for 60pills a month only costs me $10.00.

Anonymous said...

Dominick, what about those who are not as lucky as you are and cannot afford health insurance, the fact is the cost to the insurance company which you pay your premium could be used to purchase and set up a grow center where maybe hundreds of people could afford to receive cannabis and gain relief rather than just the few like you, inadvertently you are adding to the health care problem in the states.

Anonymous said...

Marinol is too expensive, even with insurance copays. Sometimes it works, but because that same dose will often have no effect at all, it is impossible to plan ahead. With marijuana, the outcome is predictable and manageable.

The government is absurd in its mishandling of marijuana.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you can afford it. I just recently lost my health insurance, and my monthly prescription costs me 751.00. Now that's ridiculous. Especially when I spend that amount on medical marijuana and it would last me at least 6 months or more

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