Cannabinoids in glaucoma prevention and treatment.

Glaucoma is a major blinding disease, the second leading cause of loss of sight in the USA. The chief mechanism is excessive pressure inside the eyeball. Treatments focus on reducing this pressure, often through trying to reduce production of the intraocular liquid, aqueous humor, or to increase its drainage

Imagine inflating a basketball to twice its recommended pressure. Not only would it bounce and handle poorly, it would also be in some danger of exploding. In the eye, excess pressure can deform the back of the eyeball where the optic nerve leads deep into the brain. The pressure can cause “cupping,” and with it, irreversible optic nerve damage. The crushing effect causes excitotoxicity in the damaged retinal ganglion cells, and further injury results from this oxidation stress.

The function of cannabinoids in lowering this damaging interocular pressure is well known; the treatment of glaucoma with cannabis is one of the most readily identified medical uses of marijuana.

Now it is clear that the benefits go far beyond this crucial lowering of intraocular pressure. Activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system also now appears to provide robust neuroprotective effects. Not only does cannabis lower eye pressures, it also serves to help protect the visual nerve cells from damage.

Our eyes are well endowed with endocannabinoid receptors of both types, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors have been shown to flourish in  the human anterior eye, where the excess pressure is generated, and the retina, where the damage of glaucoma takes place.

Research, reported in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, found CB1 receptors in all the frontal eye anatomy thought important in controlling IOP (intraocular pressure). These include Schlemm’s canal and “ciliary epithelium, trabecular meshwork, and in the blood vessels of the ciliary body.”  The authors surmised that evidence of CB1 receptors in the “ciliary pigment epithelium suggests that cannabinoids may have an effect on aqueous humor production.”  CB1 presence in the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal “suggests that cannabinoids may influence conventional outflow.” Evidence of effects on uveoscleral outflow are inferred by CB1in the ciliary muscle.

CB1 receptors are also present on the other (back) end of the eye, the all important retina and its attachment to the optic nerve with retinal ganglion cells. Here, the neuroprotective effects of activation of cannabinoid receptors may prevent and reduce damage caused by high IOP.  Research out of Finland concluded that “at least some cannabinoids may ameliorate optic neuronal damage through suppression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor hyperexcitability, stimulation of neural microcirculation, and the suppression of both apoptosis and damaging free radical reactions, among other mechanisms.”

Research our of University of Aberdeen, UK remind that not all neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids come from their activation of the endocannabinoid system; cannabinoids are powerful antioxidants in their own right. Writing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the researchers note that “Classic cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC, HU-211, and CBD have antioxidant properties that are not mediated by the CB1 receptor. As a result, they can prevent neuronal death by scavenging toxic reactive oxygen species produced by overstimulation of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamic acid.” The British researchers also note that regarding the CB2 receptor, “The anti-inflammatory properties of CB2 receptor agonists might also prove to be of therapeutic relevance in different forms of inflammatory eye disease.”

Tragically, little of this research has been done in the USA. Even though glaucoma blinds hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, the anti-cannabis bias of the controlling agencies (DEA, NIDA ) has not allowed research with this natural plant substance that can prevent these blindings. They cling to the fiction (and blatant lie) that marijuana has no medical value and disallow all research even while their countrymen and women needlessly lose precious, precious sight.

So strong is this prejudice that even so-called advocacy groups such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation appear uninterested in a natural substance that helps prevent glaucoma. “Information” on medical marijuana at this site appears to have been written by the propaganda officers of the DEA.

Meanwhile, across the globe, research moves forward identifying evermore ways humans can gain health benefits from the cannabis plant. At the forefront are the IOP lowering, optic nerve-protecting effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

Bureaucrats successfully stifle medical cannabis research.

Last week, Dr. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts, after a decade of trying to gain permission to grow or procure cannabis for research on its medical value, finally gave up. Unlike any other substance, the government maintains a total monopoly on growing and distributing cannabis for research purposes. Essentially the government allows no research on cannabis, especially investigations into its medical benefits, the focus of Dr. Craker’s research.

For more history of University of Massachusetts professor’s 9 year struggle, see the AP report here.  This dismal tale of bureaucratic injustice seemed more hopeful in 2007, when a federal judge ruled in Professor’s Craker’s favor and recommended the DEA grant the request. But then this judgment was overruled by the DEA‘s acting director Michele Leonhart in the waning days of the Bush administration. Obama’s response back-stabbed those who voted for change when he then nominated this DEA hack as director, a position which she now holds after unanimous Senate confirmation. Gag.

The government’s actions, and decades of stalling inaction, are crimes against humanity.  Dr. Craker says this is only the first battle and the struggle will continue for many decades. Problem is, those who need the new medications the most, the Baby Boomers, don’t have a lot of decades left to wait while bureaucracies stall research that would further undermine their palace of lies. Lies such as  the Schedule I assertion that cannabis has no medical value. Baby Boomers will be consumed by cancer, blinded by glaucoma, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, racked by  Crohn’s disease and suffer other dire maladies for which cannabis medications show great promise while self-serving government bureaus continue to lie, to stall and to stifle research.  Such despicable behavior and horrendous consequences, especially when the anti-cancer promises of cannabinoids remain uninvestigated,  truly qualify as crimes against against humanity.

The Obama administration promised a science-based approach. Instead, Obama has allowed politics and bureaucracy to stifle what may well be one of the most productive veins of medical research this century. What if all the tens of billions of dollars wasted on cannabis prohibition and eradication were instead invested in researching medical benefits of cannabinoids? How many jobs could be created? How much suffering could be avoided?  For now, Dr. Craker has lost, along with the American people and scientific inquiry. The bureaucrat prohibitionists and their massive budgets have won. Thankfully, this vital cannabis medical research continues on in other countries.

UN Anti-Drug Day Soon: Get your execution pay-per-view now!

Don’t miss out! It is less than a month away from the United Nations Anti-Drug Day, June 26. This international holiday is celebrated in China and several other countries with executions of drug criminals. Get your pay-per-view now! Help support the UN’s mission to eradicate from earth the medicinal drug plant, cannabis sativa ! According to the UN Wire, a decade ago China executed 71 drug law violators on June 26, 1999. They should be able to do better than that now!

  • Perhaps methods of execution should be enhanced to expand their appeal to a world wide television audience. The traditional Chinese method of a bullet to the back of the head is frankly, too quick for good TV. And frankly, too easy on these violators of international drug laws!

How about more of a spectacle? Condemned drug prisoners could be taken to the Shanghai zoo and turned over to hungry lions, always a great crowd-pleaser in ancient Rome. Of course, the Chinese are not without their quaint and colorful forms of execution, the Death of A Thousand Cuts comes to mind. Not only would these more punishing forms of execution help boost pay-per-view ratings, they more clearly demonstrate the dangers of drug abuse.

Chinese drug abuser minutes from death.
Chinese drug abuser minutes from death.

Another country bravely attacking the menace of drugs by killing offenders is Malaysia. Those violating laws against the evil plant cannabis are routinely hung in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps a simultaneous drop of 10 cannabis violators could be added to the UN pay-per-view. Or even 20 hung at once; there are plenty of young Malaysian necks to be wrung, because a trafficing charge brings mandatory death penalty.

  • Remember, it is for a good cause, the UN’s mandate to cause the extinction of cannabis. The evil medicinal plant has been used by people around the globe for relief of pain for thousands of years, drug abusers all!  With the UN’s brave backing perhaps the weed can finally be made extinct, freeing humankind from the from the threat of the plant’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, pain-relieving, nausea-preventing, glaucoma-stopping properties.

Although drug executions in Saudi Arabia are over all too quickly, the beheadings of hashish users with enormous swords are always good for audience appeal.

The UN Wire 10 years ago celebrated the low level of opium production in Afghanistan. The Taliban were in power and they “dropped anti-drug leaflets over Kabul on Saturday, warning that those caught growing illegal narcotics would be punished severely.” Without drug violator executions by the Taliban, things have gone downhill. A decade later, opium productions is many times what is was under the Taliban, a new record set nearly each year. Now, though, those growing opium or cannabis can be considered valid military targets by the NATO forces in the country. Perhaps the execution videos could be supplemented by NATO air-strike footage. Footage of Hellfire missiles exploding into farmhouses near illegal crop fields will also help teach those villagers not to grow cannabis, as their ancestors have been doing for millenia.

The UN Drug Control Program came up with a new motto in 1998 when it developed the decade goal of total drug eradication. The motto for the decade just ended was “a drug-free world – we can do it.” Hard-line drug war policies, pushed by the USA, were enthusiastically adopted; harm reduction policies were rejected by the UN. In 2008, a decade later, the goal was unmet. Perhaps the UN should adopt a more attainable motto, such as “an un-free world – we can do it.”

  • For your pay-per-view June 26, 2009 UN Anti-Drug Day Live Executions of Evil Drug Law Violators dial 1-800-THE-UNDCP-SUCKS. Order Now!