Relative Dangers of Pharmaceutical and Natural Substances

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The DEA has approved synthetic THC for schedule II status.(10) This has created the interesting situation in which a chemical derivative from a naturally occurring substance has been deemed safer for use than its source. Usually the opposite is true. In 1973 Gabriel Nahas believed this would be the case for THC as well. Nonetheless, in the passage below Nahas recognizes and describes the value of using THC in marijuana-related research. Nahas recognizes the THC research will provide validity for assertions about marijuana itself. The following is the conclusion from the chapter on chemistry from Nahas’ 1973 edition of Marihuana–Deceptive Weed.

“It has taken all the refinements of modern technology to isolate and define the elusive psychoactive substance which has led man to use Cannabis as an intoxicant. Now that this substance is available, the pharmacologist and biochemist will be able to assess quantitatively its mechanism of action, and some advances in understanding basic biological processes are to be expected.

“However, the chemical identification of delta-9-THC will not solve in any way the social problem of Cannabis use or abuse by man. Indeed, the history of the past 100 years indicates that when morphine and heroin were isolated from the poppy and cocaine from coca leaves, these alkaloids were rapidly abused in preference to the less potent natural substances from which they were derived. The same holds true for the Mexican peyote cactus and its alkaloid, mescaline. If there is any continuity in history, one might therefore expect delta-9-THC to be increasingly used by man as a euphoriant and mind-altering drug in preference to the deceptive Cannabis of fluctuating potency. Furthermore, it is very simple to synthesize delta-9-THC from olivetol, a basic chemical available commercially in the United States.”(11)