A study just recently published has shown that low-dose, vaporized cannabis products, are effective in treating neuropathic pain. This is significant for a large number of people who suffer this condition. I suppose I should start with, what is neuropathic pain?
Some conditions, diabetes and HIV amongst them, cause a kind of phantom pain in the body because of specific damage being done to the nervous system. To break it down to layman terms without spewing a whole lot of Latin phrases used in medicine, your nerves are like wires in an electrical circuit. There are signals travelling along those wires that tell our muscles what to do, how our organs function, all those important things. When the nerves get damaged by disease, they act like frayed wires, sending false signals. A very severe form of this is Multiple Sclerosis where the patient slowly loses control of muscle function and experiences pain and spasms all over their body.
Traditionally the treatment for neuropathic pain was opioid drugs. As one would expect, the dose required with a drug like Demerol to control the pain is often well into the psychoactive dose and the patient is rendered more or less inert. Take enough opiates and you’ll know what I mean, you get numb, slow and kind of spacey. If you wanted to say, do a job or bathe every day, this isn’t good. Long-term exposure to this kind of therapy eventually leads to apathy and emotional depression. I’ve been there; it isn’t a good place to be.
A recent study, a synopsis of which is linked at the bottom of this article, shows that vaporized cannabis can control neuropathic pain in doses low enough that the psychoactive element of cannabis use is minimized. This means no pain, and no stoned either. For people who want a medication that controls their pain, but doesn’t rule their life, this is a veritable miracle.
It’s easy for cannabis smokers who use recreationally to miss the importance of this. Cannabis can get you really high, but it can also make you feel better without getting you high. From a medical perspective this is unheard of. Neuropathic pain is notoriously stubborn pain to treat, and often requires disabling doses of opioid drugs to control. For those living in the prison of Morphine treatment and constant pain, this is a jailbreak of kinds and is well worth celebration.
When allowed the opportunity to do so, medical science proves again and again that cannabis is one of the most versatile and useful plants we have ever discovered. While there are groups trying to make new types of painkillers out of spider poison and other strange sources, cannabis waits in the wings to replace many needlessly contrived treatments and drugs which are notoriously expensive and complicated to produce.
Part of the conflict here is going to be with drug makers. They make a fortune using patented processes and exclusive equipment and facilities to make drugs. When you can just grow what you need in a planter box on the balcony, it could put a lot of people out of work and disappoint a whole bunch of investors. I for one say too bad for all of them. There used to be a lot of people employed building railroad tracks, but that business is waning these days. Those people found other jobs, and all the people making codeine pills and morphine patches may just have to do the same someday in the future.
I find circumcision to be one of the more disgusting and reprehensible examples of religion corrupting our natural sense of morality, which is based on compassion and reciprocity and not on this type of behaviour.
The foreskin, at risk of making a banal, non-controversial assertion, is a natural, healthy and useful part of the human body.
It protects infants from contamination when they have nappy rash. At any age, it protects nerve endings and keeps the penis warm and clean and soft. In adults, it helps sexually in terms of both sensitivity and natural lubrication.
If it poses any health problems, cutting it off is a disproportionate response to those problems.
Most of the supposed health problems associated with the foreskin can be resolved by cleaning your penis properly, and by using condoms during sex.
The HIV studies show mixed results, and insofar as they do show a possible protection, it is that a circumcised man may be less likely to contract HIV from a woman, but not to give HIV to a woman, but only if they are also consistently carrying out safe sex.
And cutting off your foreskin, to reduce your chances of getting HIV, is like pulling out half of your teeth, in order to reduce your chances of getting tooth cavities.
Just brush your teeth, clean your penis, wear a condom, and you don’t have to cut off parts of your body to stay healthy.
But the important point about religious circumcision is that it is not motivated in any case by health concerns.
It is motivated by worshipping a God who seems obsessed with the genitalia of human beings on planet Earth.
This God of the Judaic Bible tells Abraham and Moses to circumcise their children or he will kill them.
The first split in what eventually evolved into Christianity comes when Paul is trying to spread the good news to the Gentiles.
And he is selling them the message, and they are going “yeah, that sounds really good, yeah, eternal life, yeah, that sounds really great, how do we join?” and he says “well, you have to cut off your foreskin…”, and suddenly he has a bit of a marketing problem.
So he has to try to persuade the rest of the Jesus Disciples to allow Gentiles to follow the religion without mutilating themselves, which understandably they are reluctant to do, because they are adults.
And that is one of the reasons that religions insist on circumcising children when they are below the age when they can consent to it, because they know that the purpose of circumcision is to desensitize and control human sexuality.
And they know that if you leave the decision until the time when people are adults, that very few people will take up the option.
If they want to, that’s fine. I’ve no problem with adults choosing to mutilate themselves in any way they want.
But don’t inflict it on defenseless children.
Human rights in the context of freedom of religion and belief an conscience used to be about protecting religious communities, when there was a concern that religious communities might die out.
And then they gradually evolved into protecting the rights of parents, as heads of families, to have their particular religious views and practices protected.
But it is now moving towards recognizing that children have their own rights, irresepective of what their parents believe.
And though it is unfortunate that the German Government has fallen in to religious pressure after the German courts recognized correctly the rights of the child, I think in the long run, or even in the medium term, we are moving in the right direction.
And the rights of the child will be protected by courts, and then cravenly and cowardly followed by politicians, who will protect them on the basis of “Oh well, the courts have made us do it.”
And that’s really a debate for another day, but it is a much more serious invasion of human rights than is male circumcision, and a much more serious mutilation of the sexuality of an individual, than is male circumcision.
But it does show the mindset of the type of people who, under any circumstances, are prepared to justify the mutilation of the genitals of a defenseless child.
So, I’ll leave it at that.
You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Well, circumcision is cutting off your foreskin to spite your penis, and to spite your natural sexuality.
If you want to do that for yourself, to yourself, go ahead.
But don’t inflict it on defenseless children.