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Forum will address all things cannabis

by Isabel Mosseler

The Alliance Centre is hosting a public forum on November 29th to examine all things related to cannabis. Michael Taylor, a counsellor with the Adult Substance Abuse Program, says the event, held from 1:30 p.m. at the Sturgeon Falls Library auditorium, is meant to clarify issues around legalization, medical cannabis and recreational use. The municipality must decide whether a dispensary will be allowed in West Nipissing, and there has been discussion that the police services have yet to be trained on how to deal with the enforcement of new legislation.

“What I want to do is to be as unbiased as possible. The reality is that there are pros and cons – and when we’re talking about cannabis anecdotally, there’s more pros than con, however scientifically you can’t prove that,” said Taylor. “What I was hoping was that really good stuff could come out of this; the research to substantiate the claims that it cures cancer, that it helps to protect neurons, that it’s good for GI, that it’s good for post-traumatic stress, that it’s good for anxiety, depression, sleep, appetite. So those reports are all anecdotal, nothing scientific. When you’re talking scientific community, you need that 5% scientific error, it has to be predictable and it has to be reliable. There hasn’t been any research.”

Taylor recently participated in a conference concerning the use and effects of cannabis and wants to make sure that the citizens and decision-makers of West Nipissing have the correct information. He points to issues that are coming to the forefront. “To overdose on pot, you’d have to eat 1500 pounds in 15 minutes – which is impossible… at the higher levels there is some association with paranoia, with different individuals… It turns out that the government is going to try to compete with the black market, so they are not going to put a cap on the THC content – which I thought was a little alarming. The human brain is still developing to [age] 25… They asked the experts what they should legalize it at, and they said 25 - and the government said 19 – because that’s their biggest target demographic.”

Taylor stipulates that it is wise to proceed with caution. “Referring to Dr. Gabor Maté, we have to ask ‘What is the pain in our communities? Why is there so much substance abuse today in our society?’ If there’s always a demand, there will always be a supply. We know historically that prohibition doesn’t work, but we need to proceed with caution. That’s the take home message. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you… Moderation is always the key to success. They are not going to put an upper level on the cap of THC … so the buddy in Smith Falls can grow it a lot different than the guy in River Valley because there isn’t as yet standardization on how they grow it.”

However, he also says the history of cannabis use is lengthy and has only been recently demonized by pharmaceutical companies in the last century. “In that medical cannabis conference, they talked about the history of cannabis. …We have an endo-cannibinoid system (ECS), they speculate it’s been around 700-million years, and the plant has been around for about 15 million years, so [ECS] predates the cannabis plant.” All vertebrates and invertebrates are known to have an ECS, which helps bring balance to the body, so it came as no surprise that a deficiency may actually be a root cause of some diseases. This ECS we all share may explain why natural cannabinoids in hemp and other plants has therapeutic effects. Before prohibition, the plant had been used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments. According to Taylor, “We’ve been using it forever, and so what happened when the pharmacology industry picked up, they demonized it, because they didn’t want to compete with natural stuff, all natural stuff. We know it was used in oils and mixtures. We also know they had cocaine and opium, and we don’t use those anymore. So, again, just because we had it in the past, still proceed with caution.”

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