Let's all be honest. Pharmaceuticals kill, not cannabis. Early reports indicated that a cannabis-based drug left one dead and several others in critical condition. The French Health Ministry corrected the issue and announced that the so-called cannabis drug contained no cannabinoids.
Bial, a Portuguese pharmaceutical firm, had been developing an experimental oral medication. 90 healthy participants were involved in the study to “evaluate the safety of its use, tolerance and pharmacological profile of the molecule”. Bial began testing the drug during a biotrial on chimpanzees last July. The clinical test was in Phase I, but had moved on to human trials. Typically Phase I trials are comprised of a small group of volunteers and focus on safety.
The first patient began feeling ill on January 10th, 2016. Five more were taken to a nearby hospital in Rennes, France. The Health Ministry reported that six male patients, ages 28 to 49, had all been healthy before taking the medication. One is irreversibly brain dead and three others had possible irreversible effects. All participants are facing potential auto-immune complications. The disaster set off a media frenzy, with prohibitionists cheering it all the way. In addition, all operations at Bial have been frozen while the French state operator conducts a comprehensive investigation.
Nearly all early reports identify the drug as cannabis-based. Marisol Touraine, the French Health Minister, said the drug was actually an FAAH inhibitor that was meant to act upon the body's endocannabinoid system. The minister added that the drug contained no cannabis or any derivatives of it.
Bial defended itself by adding that the clinical trial had been approved by French regulators. Jean-Christophe Coubris is a French attorney who focuses on drug cases."Whatever contract these patients may have signed, they will be protected by French legislation in the case of proven misconduct," Coubris told VICE. “It seems absurd, since this was only Phase I, i.e. the first introduction [of the drug] into the human body."
Any time a clinical trial is underway, participants really have no idea what they're getting into. Each year, thousands of students and otherwise financially-challenged people enter into studies like this. Dr. Ben Whalley is a neuropharmacology professor at Britain’s University of Reading. “However, like any safeguard, these minimize risk rather than abolish it,” Whalley said. “There is an inherent risk in exposing people to any new compound.”
Don't do it. Those who participate in clinical drug trials take significant risk. One drug trial resulted in horrific results that led a man to amputate his fingers and toes. The drug, TGN 1421, caused six individuals to undergo severe consequences. Botched clinical trials result in enormous payouts. The £2,000 payout seemed like a great idea at the time. One participant, Ryan Wilson, the 'Elephant Man,' sought out a £2million payout in damages. Wilson lost his fingers and toes because of the study.
Another study on a drug meant to curb marijuana addiction has resulted in serious side effects. 21 of the 40 subjects dropped the drug because they said the side effects were unbearable.
If anything, this story supports the case for medical marijuana. Artificial cannabis counterfeits come and go, but they're definitely not cannabis. Pharmaceutical drugs cause a greater risk for serious side effects.