Sprayer Prayer

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Sativex, an oral cannabis-extract spray developed by the British company GW Pharmacueticals, is expected to be in Canadian pharmacies this summer. Initially intended to treat neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, the spray may also be used by people suffering from MS spasticity, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal injuries, and bladder dysfunction. GW is awaiting government approval in the U.K. and is "in the early stages" of seeking permission to sell the product in the U.S.

Since it is absorbed in the mouth, Sativex addresses concerns about the respiratory effects of inhaling marijuana combustion products (which can also be avoided by using a good vaporizer). It is faster-acting than Marinol, the FDA-approved THC capsule; does not require a steady stomach; and can be sprayed repeatedly until the appropriate dose has been reached. But GW still must contend with the FDA's preference for synthetic, isolated chemicals and the U.S. government's suspicion of anything derived from cannabis, including fiber and nonpsychoactive food products.

[Thanks to John Bradford for the link.]

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  1. yeah – but does it make you high?

  2. Will, yeah.

    The therapeutic benefits work at much lower concentrations than the high. So you have to take sufficient quantities. Sativex modulates THC plasma level spikes to much lower than smoked pot (~5 ng vs. ~200 ng).

  3. Here’s a good link about Sativex.

  4. If it does act in any way as an intoxicant (even a mild one, like when ‘Coke’ first came out) this could scare the drug warriors silly. It would seem to be much easier to transport, and likely not detectable by dogs if in proper containers.

  5. I’m still a few hours away from regaining the copyright on my recent National Post column about Sativex, but I’ll note that Canadian patients are being permitted to set their own dosage–it will be dispensed p.r.n., for you pharmacists out there.

    Intoxication is regarded as an adverse effect of the drug by the regulators, and ostensibly by the manufacturer, which is marketing it to multiple sclerosis sufferers who don’t want to spend the day blitzed (or to negotiate with multi-pierced teenagers in hoodies down at the skate park). Patients who don’t want to get high are supposed to experiment until they find a suitable sub-psychoactive, analgesic dosage level. As for those who do want to get high–well, they can’t really be stopped.

  6. Perhaps the biggest loser in a legal Sativex market is the drug testing industry.

    Patient gets legal script for Sativex, then smokes, eats or vaporizes raw cannabis at his leisure.

    Companies can no longer fire them if they test positive since they have a legal reason to medically ingest THC.

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