Dagga has real medical benefits - expert

2013-01-14 11:21
Protesters smoke marijuana during a demonstration against new government legislation calling for the creation of a 'weed pass' and the stopping of the substance's sale to foreigners, in Amsterdam. (AFP)

Protesters smoke marijuana during a demonstration against new government legislation calling for the creation of a 'weed pass' and the stopping of the substance's sale to foreigners, in Amsterdam. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Dagga has a real medical benefit and several organisations have indicated their support for research into the treatment applications for the drug.

"There is a mountain of research demonstrating the medical and therapeutic benefits of marijuana in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and associated symptoms," Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, Colorado told News24.

Several organisations, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, American Civil Liberties Union and HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America have expressed support for medicinal use of dagga or marijuana as it is known in the US.

Washington State and Colorado legalised personal marijuana use in December, though possession in still illegal under US federal law.

Anti-dagga lobbyists argue that allowing medicinal use of the drug will weaken drug enforcement laws and make it harder to prosecute dealers.


As far back as 1988, US Administrative Law Judge Francis Young indicated in a marijuana rescheduling petition that the drug was not as dangerous for adults as some argue.

"In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death," Young said.

He went on to say that despite millions of people consuming dagga without medical supervision, there has not been a single recorded death attributed to the drug, whereas aspirin has been linked to hundreds of deaths every year.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 36 450 deaths were attributed to prescription drugs in 2008, a rate of 11.9 per 100 000 of population in the US.

Tvert, who co-authored Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, said that dagga has been shown to have benefits in the treatment of a range of diseases, including cancer.

"It has been found to provide relief from nausea and appetite loss, such as that experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In individuals with glaucoma, it reduces intraocular pressure, alleviating pain and reducing damage to the eye. It has been found to be effective at reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis."

A South African expert agreed with this view in broad terms, but cautioned that "unfiltered" dagga may cause harm.

"I believe we are past saying 'if' there are some medicinal benefits for marijuana. Yes, that would be the ideal to find other delivery mechanisms. But obviously these come with extra costs which need to be outweighed against the harms from smoking unfiltered (cheaper) marijuana," Professor Charles Parry, director of the Medical Research Council's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Unit told News24.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    mrc  |  health  |  research

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region


Cape Town
Mass Staffing Projects
R400 000.00 - R600 000.00 Per Year

Software Engineer

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R720 000.00 - R960 000.00 Per Year

Imports Controller

Cape Town
Professional Career Services
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.