Internet rumor besmirches medical marijuana

Posted on January 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Shadow WatchThere is no end to false Internet rumors concerning our favorite herb, and the latest was just called out by those dogged rumor-busters at Snopes. It seems that Britain's Sky News of Jan. 13 reported on a clinical trial of an experimental drug in France that went horribly wrong, leaving one brain-dead and another three with what could be permanent brain damage. A total of 90 were given then new painkiller compound manufactured by the Portuguese pharma firm BIAL in a test overseen by UK-based Biotrial. The original Sky News account (as quoted by Snopes) refered to the compound as "cannabis-based." Currently, it only says that French Health Minister Marisol Touraine "denied reports the drug was based on the compound found in cannabis." But it got around before the text was changed, popping up on e-mail lists and social media.

The inaccuracy seems to have first made the rounds on mainstream media in France. The Local ("France's news in English") says that French news wire AFP quoted a source "close to the case" who said the drug contained cannabinoids. But The Local also quotes Touraine refuting this: "This medication did not contain cannabis and was not a cannabis-based drug."

The BBC also states: "Reports that the drug is a cannabis-based painkiller have been denied by the health ministry."

A Biotrial tweet on the grim affair made no mention of cannabis or cannabinoids. Neither does a statement on the BIAL website, which refers only to an "experimental molecule." What the drug actually contains still seems under wraps—but cannabis has been ruled out.

Snopes gives the story a "Mostly False" rating—yes, there was a drug test that turned deadly; but no, it did not concern cannabis. We fear that in the usual scramble to be first with the story, AFP (or someone) did a sloppy rush-job based on hearsay—and then the Internet's echo effect gave it a life if its own. Anyone who knows anything about cannabis knows these claims do not remotely pass the smell test (forgive the pun). If you see them on Facebook or where-ever—shoot 'em down.

Photo by Hammer51012  


Source of confusion on deadly drug test

Bill Weinberg's picture  Ladybud reports that the drug in question in the case above " was designed to block necessary processes in the human Endocannabinoid Signaling (ECS) system." This may have been the source of the confusion. Ladyboud editorializes: "Instead of embracing a natural, plant-based medicine that has been shown to work for many conditions, researchers hell-bent on synthesizing cannabinoid therapy to ensure massive corporate profits accidentally killed one and disabled several others."
Comment by Bill Weinberg on Jul 5th, 2016 at 1:10 am

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