Synthetic marijuana just as good?
By Christopher Smeenk
Ill pot smokers looking to do away with the pink elephants
might finally get some help from another drug.
Known as dexanabinol, the drug is currently in the third and
final phase of clinical trials at Pharmos, said Gale Smith,
the company’s director of corporate development. “Dexanabinol
is considered a member of the cannabinoid family and is a synthetic
form of THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana,” she
Used to treat people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries,
Smith said the drug is similar but not exactly identical to
marijuana. “It’s like trying to fit a left glove
onto a right hand,” she said, noting it allows for all
the positive medical effects of cannabis, without any of the
Despite this technological progress, some local pot smokers
are objecting. “Some people get great enjoyment by relaxing,
sitting back and lighting up a joint,” said a London
Compassion Centre staff member who identified himself only
as Rob. The LCC is an organization that provides chronically
ill people with medical marijuana. “I like to keep the
synthetics I put into my body to a minimum,” he said.
Other possible applications of the drug include people who
have suffered a stroke, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, as
well as patients recovering from heart surgery, Smith explained.
To be effective, he said, a patient must receive a one-time
injection of the drug within six hours of brain trauma, adding
Pharmos currently estimates the cost to be between US$4,000
and US$6,000 per treatment.
“For four to six thousand dollars, you can grow 35 to
50 pounds of natural, organic marijuana in the earth,” said
Pete Young of Organic Traveller, a hemp shop located in downtown
London. “That’s enough to treat five suffering
people for over a year.”
P.J. Sparks, a third-year health sciences student, pointed
out some possible benefits of the synthetic form. “It’s
well known that smoking weed has adverse effects on the lungs.
“Maybe the artificial drug would be less conspicuous,” he
added. “And you won’t smell.”