Dr. Frank D'Ambrosio is meeting MPs in the British Parliament today (Wed, 14th Nov 2018) at 5:00pm UK Time in Committee Room 20.
Video of Dr Frank D’Ambrosio speaking at World Health Organization, Geneva on Monday 12th Nov 2018
Leading US medical cannabis campaigner Dr Frank D’Ambrosio told the World Health Organisation in Geneva not to “Fear cannabis. It is not a demon weed” he said.
Dr D’Ambrosio was invited to give evidence at the World Health Organisations 41st Expert Committee on Drug Dependence on Monday, 12th November 2018. The committee will be reporting back to the United Nations in March 2019.
This is the first time they have ever conducted a review of cannabis in terms of its scheduling since the first meeting on drug scheduling in 1961.
Dr. D’Ambrosio urged that cannabis was immediately descheduled by the United Nations.
“At the moment cannabis in the US as a Schedule 1 drug is considered to have the same medicinal value as LSD or Heroin- which is zero”.
“What simply makes no sense is that synthetic THC, created in the lab, is Schedule 3. How can that be possible?”
“Almost all research to date has been in Israel,” says Dr. D’Ambrosio, “with little to no research in the USA”.
“We can’t better understand how different strains of cannabis interact to treat Alzheimers, seizures, mental illness, Parkinson, pain, the list is endless”.
“Access to cannabis is prevented
“Also because in the US, doctors are not allowed to discuss cannabis with patients, they are left with a ‘try and see’ situation with dispensaries recommending various strains rather than physicians.
“The situation is make-shift and not ideal” says Dr. D’Ambrosio.
The Los Angeles based orthopaedic surgeon runs one of the busiest medical cannabis practices in California.
FULL Text of Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio’s talk at the World Health Organization’s 41stExpert Committee on Drug Dependence
My name is Francis D’Ambrosio. I am an orthopaedic spine surgeon from California, in the United States of America. In 1996, California became the first state to allow for medical cannabis under the Compassionate Use Act. Since that point, including this last Tuesday’s election, there are now 32 states in the United States that have allowed for medical and or recreational cannabis. Conflicting that is the current DEA regulations, in regards to cannabis and how they guard it and schedule it, as previously discussed. It has been classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
That means to the United States and the DEA, cannabis has no medical value whatsoever. It has the same medical value as LSD and heroin.
None of that jives with any of the extensive research that has been done over the past 20 years, or what I’ve seen in my clinical practice.
I was a practicing spine surgeon for 20 years.
Much to my dismay, I found that, after 20 years, I had an office full of patients who were addicted to opioids.
Five years ago, I stopped prescribing opioids completely and managed to convince 90% of my patients to move from opioids over to the cannabis plant. Since that point, I have treated over 10,000 patients with opioid addiction and successfully transferred them over to the use of cannabis.
Although much research on cannabis has been done, and continually needs to be done, little to none of that research has been completed in the United States.
Since cannabis has been designated a Schedule 1 drug, cannabis cannot be studied, researchers cannot be given grants and academic papers fail to reach the most respected medical journals.
In the United States, many physicians believe that if the research is not done there, then it's not the research they want to rely upon.
There’s been amazing studies coming out of Israel and the Netherlands, that support cannabis as a medicine. And it is.
There are two major phytocannabinoids that we always talk about with regards to cannabis: CBD and THC.
CBD has no psychoactive effects. THC does.
The reason THC has psychoactive effects is because it is the only cannabinoid in the plant that is not fat soluble, so it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
If you are treating patients or hope to treat patients with any of the central nervous system disorders: Parkinsons, Dementia, any of the seizure disorders in children, you have to be able to use a small amount of the THC.
It does not have to be a large amount, it just has to be in the plant. If you start separating the components of the plant and classify CBD as not on the schedule and THC on the schedule, you are not going to be able to get the whole entourage effect of the plant and let it work as a medicine.
You see all these reports of these children with seizure disorders who are on CBD only. It cannot possibly be CBD only. It won’t get across the blood-brain barrier.
If you try to get access to cannabis, especially in environments where people are not wealthy enough to afford to buy analgesic medicines, you grow the plant.
In the United States, in California for example, not only do we now have recreational cannabis, which I am not a huge fan of, we also allow every patient to grow 6 of their own plants.
Now, they do not have to worry about how much money they have, they just have to be able to grow their own plants. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime. Similarly, if you teach a person to grow cannabis, he or she will have open access to something that will decrease pain.
The corporatization of the growing of cannabis on a recreational level will at some point be a problem for all of us. Every medicine that we know of has a Lethal Dose 50.
That amount of medicine, 50% of the time, if you take it, you will die.
The Lethal Dose 50 of cannabis has never been reached.
If you were to smoke cannabis, you would need to inhale 30 pounds of flower in 20 minutes.
It does not cause death.
So even though all this research has to be done, we know that of all the potential side effects, death is not one of them.
That was one of my reasons for transferring all my patients from opioids over to cannabis.
My big concern is that as the cannabis industry continues to grow and more corporations get involved, the more they will make sure they reach their corporate bottom line, profit.
To maximize the bottom line, they are going to begin using pesticides.
They are not going to test for all the pesticides and say that it is pesticide-free.
If they are not going to suggest that patients smoke cannabis - which I am not suggesting - even though there is no research that says it will cause cancer, intuitively, it doesn’t make any sense. Instead, patients will start using concentrates. If we concentrate the cannabis, we concentrate the pesticides and we will see our first death from the use of cannabis. It is not going to be from the cannabis, it will be the pesticides.
But I am sure it will be blamed on the cannabis.
If you are considering cannabis as a medicine or scheduling it, consider the plant as a whole.
As much as we want to do all this vigorous research, there are so many strains, so many different components to the cannabis plants that just separating out one or two cannabinoids is not the way to go.
Cannabis, an organically grown plant, right now in the United States, is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
Synthesized THC, Marinol, is classified as a Schedule 3.
It does not make any sense.
What’s the other component to make it a Schedule 1 drug? CBD is not even on the list.
So if its growing naturally, it is a Schedule 1, but if you make it in the lab, it’s a Schedule 3?
We need to do more research and we need to stop demonizing this plant. The only way to do that is to deschedule it”.
About Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio
Dr Frank Ambrosio is one of the world's leading campaigners for policy reform on the use of medical cannabis. A surgeon for over 30 years, he witnessed patient after patient suffering from chronic pain after surgery - pain that meant they faced a lifetime of taking prescription medicines. After deciding to look into alternative forms of pain relief, Dr Frank became fascinated by the science behind medicinal cannabis and its proven success in treating a range of medical conditions - from everyday ailments to chronic diseases. Today, as well as being a renowned advocate, his medical practice is dedicated to helping patients throughout the United States incorporate medical cannabis into their daily health routines.
For too long, medical cannabis has been treated as a taboo subject despite the growing mountain of scientific evidence that proves its medicinal benefits. There are still millions of people who are denied the use of a medicine that could change their lives. For Dr Frank, it's time for the voices of those people to be heard. For people to be given the opportunity to be informed, educated and empowered to make their own choices. What drives Dr Frank is the passionate belief that cannabis is a medicine that can benefit each and every one of us.