May The Force Be With You: The Dark Side of Pharmaceuticals and the Green Light of Cannabis

 

May the Force Be

We’ve all seen the gleaming TV commercials, bike riders in daisy fields…. and yet we’ve heard the long, legally obligated litany of warnings, up to and including nothing less than “suicidal feelings.”

What the daisy-picking litany of faster than speed of light talking voice at the end of the commercial doesn’t mention is murder. Over the past two decades mind altering pharmaceutical medication especially antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics have been suspect in an increase in suicides and committed murders by the patients who take them. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (2002) discovered that “Prozac has been cited in more medication criminal defense cases in the U.S. than has any other psychotropic drug.”

The current hypothesis has been that certain patients with a particular genetic pre- disposition (or vulnerability)“, that have a certain metabolic mechanism, and that take certain psychiatric drugs can produce an internal environment for the perfect storm (or nightmare) where homicidal or suicidal impulses are acted out. But, was that really the case? What was the actual evidence-based risk of specific medications?

Now a study conducted by Finish researchers (published by the journal World Psychiatry 2015), on the medical prescription history of over 959 convicted murderers, has produced some clarification, actual risk assessment as well as discovered some surprising and new revelations.

And, against the grain of mainstream expectation study results showed that the risk of committing murder with the use of antidepressants increased only slightly (little more with the use of antipsychotics).

However, what was unexpected and surprising was a significant increase of murders under the influence of pain medications (opioid, non-opioid) and benzodiazepines.

In contrast to the potential dark side of mind altering and analgesic (pain medication) pharmaceuticals let’s examine another mind altering albeit natural and green substance prescribed for similar conditions such as pain, insomnia, anxiety or depression — namely cannabis or cannabinoid containing medications.

A study examining the effects of Medial Marijuana Legalization (MML) on murder rates published by PlosOne (2014) and based on data from states with MML between the years of 1990 and 2006 revealed a drop in homicides, rape as well as other violent crimes in general.

Academic studies aside, what is true for many cannabis-using patients are that at the right dose it actually feels like a bike ride in daisy fields. Well ok, maybe not exactly, but the plant can induce deep relaxation and calming effects. Great for any troubled mind.

Good news also for any body suffering from almost any condition for which pharmaceutical analgesics are prescribed. The potent anti-inflammatory and moderate analgesic qualities of cannabis can be used as a real alternative. And, if opioids are indeed needed, cannabis can reduce the actual amount of opioids needed to reach the same effect further limiting adverse effect potentials.

The force is in your choice!

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